South Africa has recorded more than 6,700 cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday night, a surge that qualifies as the second wave for the southern African country, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Mkhize says the highest cases are centered in four provinces, including Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, “believed to be due to large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol with no adherence” to safety measures, he says.
“This inevitably leads to superspreader events which spill over into the rest of the country as this age group is highly mobile and the majority of the carriers are asymptomatic,” said Mkhize.
He said he was worried the cases would rise as people travel around the country for the holidays and meet up with family and friends.
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“If this trajectory continues our health care system will be overwhelmed by the numbers,” he added in a statement. “There is going to be exponential growth. This means we must expect faster-rising numbers with a higher peak, possibly, than the first wave.”
South Africa has had the highest cases on the continent since the pandemic began, but had imposed stringent lockdown measures, including banning alcohol. But the tough measures also had a lasting effect on the economy, causing an economic downturn.
While international travel and alcohol restrictions have bene lifted, a new lockdown has been imposed on Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape province, which was cited as a virus hotspot.
South Africa is also participating clinical trials of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca that is reportedly 70 percent effective.
South Africa’s seven-day rolling average of new cases has risen within the past two weeks from 4.4 new cases per 100,000 people late last month to 7.7 new cases per 100,000 people on Wednesday.
It has so far confirmed 828,598 cases and 22,574 deaths, while some 754,658 people have recovered.