The COVID-19 infections are increasing at a high speed in South Africa which is getting closer to a fifth wave as the positivity rate hit 31.1% on the weekend, a health official said on Monday.
“The current rise in infections is driven by two omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5. Our scientists are closely monitoring the situation,” the Health Ministry’s spokesman, Foster Mohale, told Anadolu Agency.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has been reporting over 5,000 new COVID-19 cases daily for the past week.
On May 8, the institute reported 5,486 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number to nearly 3.85 million.
On Saturday, the country recorded 8,524 new cases representing a 31.1% positivity rate among those tested, the highest rate since Dec. 15, 2021, when 26,976 daily infections were reported.
“We are concerned about the COVID-19 cases, and urge all unvaccinated and partly vaccinated South Africans to protect themselves through vaccination,” Mohale noted.
He said the majority of the people admitted to hospitals due to COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
As the infections spike, Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine-producing facility based in South Africa, announced that it is considering closing down its plant. The firm said it did not have orders from buyers.
The Aspen facility was described as a game-changer in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as it produced vaccines on the continent, which faced difficulty in obtaining them.
“As President Cyril Ramaphosa has indicated that the government is doing everything possible to prevent the closure, we are engaging with Aspen authorities to address this challenge,” Mohale said.
He said the Aspen plant benefits the entire African continent and other parts of the world because of its proximity and reduces the long waiting time to access vaccines.
With a population of 60 million, South Africa has administered over 35 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far, which is about 30% of the country’s population if all receive a double jab.
The country has so far recorded at least 3.84 million infections -- the highest number of cases on the continent -- and 100,520 deaths./aa