Health official warns of rising COVID-19 cases due to Delta variant in South Africa

An elderly person receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 17, 2021. (Xinhua/Yeshiel)
An elderly person receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 17, 2021. (Xinhua/Yeshiel)

As the Delta variant continued fueling the third wave of the pandemic in South Africa, Acting Minister of Health Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said the situation “remains of great concern.”

At a virtual media briefing Friday, the official said the positivity rate had increased to 28.4 percent, and the whole country registered 21,584 new cases in Thursday alone, of whom, over 12,000 were in Gauteng.

Kubayi-Ngubane said the number of patients admitted to hospitals was on the rise.

“We remain very worried about the rise in hospitalizations which is putting a lot of strain in the health facilities in Gauteng.”

Hospitals in the private healthcare sector were operating at 100 percent capacity while “the public health hospitals are edging closer to full capacity,” said the health official, who believed the cases had already “surpassed” the first wave peak and were on course to surpass the peak of the second wave.

The Delta variant which was first recorded in May in South Africa was the most “dominant” variant.

“There is now good evidence that Delta is more transmissible than previously circulating viruses and other variants of concern,” said Kubayi-Ngubane. According to her, people who were previously diagnosed with the coronavirus were in danger of being reinfected by the Delta variant.

“Another important characteristic of the Delta variant is the fact whereas those who were previously infected Beta were immune from reinfection by both the Alpha and Beta variant, it is not the case with the Delta variant,” she added.