When and how bad Covid-19 third wave will be depends on how people behave, says Zweli Mkhize

Society’s behaviour will largely determine when the country will experience the third wave of Covid-19 infections

04 March 2021 - 22:10 By belinda pheto
Health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize said the third wave will be dependent on how people behave.
Health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize said the third wave will be dependent on how people behave.
Image: Supplied

Society’s behaviour will determine when the country will experience the third Covid-19 wave.

Speaking on Thursday, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said there was no clear model predicting exactly when SA might see a third wave of Covid-19 infections, but the “suspicion” was that this could be in late April or early May.

“We need to understand that while we may not be able to predict accurately when the next surge is coming, it may well come when we have huge movement of people coming during the public meetings, or during the Easter weekend or during the Easter holidays when people are moving up and down. That might have an impact as well. We will be observing to see what is happening at that time,” he said.

Mkhize was speaking at a webinar hosted by the National Press Club and the GCIS.

He said the next wave could be delayed if people continued to keep up social distancing and using of masks.

According to Mkhize, the reduction in the severity of the second wave of infections was because of the extent to which people used masks and observed social distancing.

On how the government decided to ease the lockdown restrictions, the minister said they were guided by the hospitalisation numbers, the number of deaths and the general extent to which society was affected by Covid-19.

He said it was justifiable to ease the restrictions and move SA to lockdown level 1, as the country moved from recording 20,000 positive cases in a day to about 1,500 a day.

“It is still high, but nevertheless much lower than what we have seen before,” he said.

He also cited the low positivity rate — the number of positive test results compared to the number of test conducted in the same period — which has gone from more than 30% at the height of the peak of the second wave to consistently in the single figures now.

He said people must continue with the containment measures by using masks, sanitising hands and observing social distancing.

However, he said government would remain vigilant to see if there was any change that suggested a virus resurgence was coming.