South Africa has “technically entered” the third wave of Covid-19, with more than 9,000 new infections identified in the past 24 hours, the South African National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) announced Thursday evening.
With the average number of new infections rising over the past seven days, “South Africa has technically entered a third wave today,” according to the Twitter NICD, which lists Covid-19 numbers daily.
Officially, the country on the continent hardest hit by the virus, South Africa, which was hit hard by the second wave at the end of 2020, which peaked at about 10,000 new cases per day, has feared this announcement for several weeks.
Four of the country’s nine provinces, including Gauteng Province, which includes Johannesburg as well as the capital, Pretoria, were considered at the end of May affected by the third wave.
South Africa now has more than 1.7 million cases of 57,410 deaths, including 100 in the past 24 hours. With Egypt, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia, the country has recorded nearly three-quarters of the new cases recorded across Africa, which is close to five million, according to the World Health Organization.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced at the end of May a return to stricter measures: extending the curfew, closing non-essential businesses at 10 pm, and limiting gatherings more strictly.
South Africa lags behind the rest of the world, vaccinating just over 1% of its population, while the target set by the World Health Organization is to vaccinate 10% of each country’s population by September.
The government has been widely criticized for delaying the global race for valuable vaccines, and says it has bought enough doses for at least 45 out of about 59 million South Africans.
Cyril Ramaphosa has repeatedly denounced “vaccine apartheid” that favors rich countries for getting vaccines. South Africa and India are leading a campaign to waive intellectual property rights for coronavirus vaccines, so that every country can produce doses.
According to the World Health Organization, only 2% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people have received a dose, while only 9.4 million Africans have been fully immunized.