South Africa records highest positivity rate yet of fifth wave

It’s possible the fifth wave will be the least onerous so far.
Image: Bloomberg

South Africa’s daily coronavirus test positivity rate rose to its highest level since Jan. 1 on Thursday as the continent’s most-industrialized nation heads into a fifth wave of infections.

There were 9,757 new Covid-19 cases identified, representing a 25.9% positivity rate of those tested, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a statement on its website.

The latest surge in infections comes as winter starts in the country forcing people indoors and possibly enabling the virus to spread faster. South Africa is still a long way off previous records. The largest daily count for new cases was 26,976, reached on Dec. 15.


The government, which recently ended its more than two-year National State of Disaster, now no longer has the ability to broadly override the rights of citizens, it has implemented new health legislation that will require proof of vaccination or negative tests for some gatherings and the continued wearing of masks in public indoor spaces.

It’s possible the fifth wave will be the least onerous so far. The new omicron sublineages appear to be less severe than the original and the fifth wave is unlikely to cause “even anything close” to the number of hospitalizations and deaths that occurred when omicron first appeared in November, according to Shabir Madhi, a vaccinologist from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Nonetheless, health experts and the government are urging citizens to get vaccinated, receive their boosters and continue taking precautions against the virus.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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