South Africa’s Covid-19 cases jump by more than 6,000…

On the eve of new health regulations coming into operation to regulate outbreaks of coronavirus infections in the country, new cases of Covid-19 increased by 6,170 with more than one in five tests for the virus proving positive.

Of these, 950 cases were flagged as possible reinfections. The Africa Health Research Institute has just published its findings in a preprint article after it set out to see if people who had the BA.1 subvariant in the Omicron family could get reinfected with the BA.4 or BA.5 subvariants.

It found that this can happen, but people who had BA.1 (in December 2021 or January 2022) are largely protected. However, this protection is lower among the unvaccinated.

In its latest report on Covid-19 testing, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported a weekly positivity rate (percentage of tests being positive) of 22.2% — meaning that more than one in five tests are positive.

According to the report, the percentage of positive tests increased in all provinces except the Western Cape, where it was unchanged.

For the first time, KwaZulu-Natal overtook Gauteng with a positivity rate of 26.7%, followed by Gauteng at 24.5% and the Northern Cape at 20.4%. The report said that all other provinces recorded a positivity rate of between 10% and 20%.

An increase of 120 hospital admissions brings the total number of people in hospital with Covid-19 complications to 2,479.

The highest percentage of positive tests were from the 10 to 14-year-old age group (34.2%).

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The NICD’s latest respiratory pathogen report shows a total of 58 cases of influenza so far in South Africa. The report on pneumonia surveillance said that since the beginning of 2022, specimens from 2,022 patients with severe respiratory illness were tested from the six sentinel sites, and influenza had been detected in 31 (2%) patients.

Its pneumonia surveillance program picked up that 9% of patients (178) with severe respiratory illness had Covid-19 pneumonia.

At midnight on May 4th, a set of new health regulations, which some have described as draconian, was scheduled to come into force. The regulations survived a first legal challenge this week in the Western Cape High Court to the shortened time frame for comment, but several organizations have promised that should the new rules come into effect, legal action will follow.

The new rules would replace interim regulations issued in terms of the Disaster Management Act that will fall away at midnight. The regulations seek to impose permanent restrictions on numbers at gatherings, including religious gatherings and funerals.

They also contain provisions that allow for compulsory medical testing and the legal framework for compelling patients who tested positive for Covid-19 into an obligatory stay at a health or isolation facility.

If no new regulations are promulgated at this stage, the mask mandate will fall away.

Department of Health spokesperson Foster Mohale said on Wednesday night that a “public announcement” about the new regulations would be made before midnight. DM/MC

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