Coronavirus Updates

BREAKING: Over 22 000 Covid-19 deaths since December as vaccine touches down in SA

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – There have been over 22 000 coronavirus-related deaths since December 1, which means in just two months there have been more deaths than in the first eight months when the virus first hit South Africa.

In the eight-month period between March and November 2020, just over 21 900 people had died Covid-19-related deaths.

This has effectively doubled SA’s Covid-19 death toll in just two months, rocketing to 44 164 as of Sunday night (January 31).

In terms of infections, there were just over 790 000 infections between March and November 2020, while there were just over 660 000 infections between December 1 and January 31, 2021.

In early December, South Africa entered the second wave of the coronavirus. The second wave was accompanied by the new Covid variant, 501.v2, which experts warned was more contagious.

The second wave and the new variant also came with a harder lockdown, stricter curfews, beach bans and alcohol sale bans.

In the National Institute of Communicable Disease’s January communique, they said the first wave between June and July, saw a weekly incidence peak at 138.1 cases per 100 000 people, while the second wave, commencing mid-November, peaked at 228.9 cases per 100 000 people.

“At the start of the pandemic, the weekly incidence risk of cases was 0.02 cases per 100 000 persons, increasing steadily to peak (138.1 cases per 100 000) in week 28 (week ending on 11 July 2020).

“From week 28, there was a steady decline in weekly incidence risk until week 39 (16.1 cases per 100 000 persons).

“Between week 40 and 46 of 2020, the incidence of cases ranged between 17.7 to 23.9 cases per 100 000 persons.

“There has been an ongoing resurgence of cases from week 47 of 2020 to week 1 of 2021 (29.9 to 228.9 cases per 100 000 persons), with a steep increase reported from week 50 of 2020 to week 1 of 2021,” said the NICD.

The NICD said it remained unclear when the second wave of infections would peak in South Africa.

“The overall weekly incidence risk of cases in week 1 of 2021 was higher (228.9 cases per 100 000) than the first peak in week 28 of 2020.

“The weekly incidence risk in three provinces contributed the most to the second wave being higher compared to the first wave: Western Cape (322.9 vs 108.4 cases per 100 000), KwaZulu-Natal (312.3 vs 142.5 cases per 100 000) and Gauteng (248.5 vs 218.8 cases per 100 000 persons),” said the NICD.

In terms of age, those aged between 30-34 and 35-39 were still the main carriers of the virus during the first and second waves, but older citizens were more likely to be infected during the second wave.

“When comparing characteristics of Covid-19 cases between the first and second waves of infection on a multivariable analysis, individuals in the older age groups (over 60 years) had increased odds of being diagnosed with Covid-19 in the second wave,” said the NICD.

It also said the Western Cape, KZN and Gauteng had the highest risk incidence, with the Eastern Cape the only province not to exceed the risk incidence in the first wave.

“Cases diagnosed in the second wave were more likely to be in the older age group and from the public sector, possibly related to changes in health seeking, testing or other factors.

“With increasing numbers of cases, strengthening the capacity of the country to cope with increasing demand for admissions is recommended,” said the NICD.

Meanwhile, a recently released survey by the University of Johannesburg found that almost seven out of 10 South African adults were willing to take a Covid-19 vaccine.

UJ’s Centre for Social Change’s study showed that two out of three adults would be willing to take the Covid-19 vaccine if it became available.

UJ, in partnership with the Human Sciences Research Council’s (HSRC) Developmental, Capable and Ethical State (DCES) research division, made the findings last Monday after undertaking an online study among just over 10 000 participants between December 29 and January 6.

The study was conducted through the Moya Messenger app, which directed those polled to the survey.

Key findings from the study showed that just under 7/10 (or 67%) of adults would take, or probably would take, the vaccine if it were available; almost 2/10 (18%) would definitely not or probably would not take the vaccine; while just under 2/10 (15%) did not yet know if they would take the vaccine or not.

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