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Three is Gauteng’s unlucky number as Covid-19 reproduction rate rockets

The Covid-19 reproduction rate in South Africa is at levels seen during the peaks of the previous three waves.
The Covid-19 reproduction rate in South Africa is at levels seen during the peaks of the previous three waves.
Image: 123rf/ josiepics

Every person infected with Covid-19 in Gauteng is passing the virus to more than three other people.

This emerged from the latest report on the reproduction rate, which reached 3.06 in SA’s most populous province at the end of November.

The estimated daily reproduction number, with 95% confidence intervals, in Gauteng at the end of November.
The estimated daily reproduction number, with 95% confidence intervals, in Gauteng at the end of November.
Image: National Institute for Communicable Diseases/SA Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis

The national “R rate” — the number of people one infected person will pass a virus to — reached 2.55, which the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the SA Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis said was comparable to the highest rates recorded at the peaks of the first three waves of Covid-19 infections.

The R rates based on hospital admissions are much lower — 1.87 in Gauteng and 1.1 nationally.

SA’s fourth wave of Covid-19 continues to outpace earlier waves but deaths and hospital admissions have not yet followed suit, and the R rate according to admissions is just above 1 on average.

How the R rate (medians plus 95% confidence intervals) rocketed in 10 days.
How the R rate (medians plus 95% confidence intervals) rocketed in 10 days.
Image: National Institute for Communicable Diseases/SA Centre of Excellence in Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis

The scientists who produce the weekly R rate analysis said their work was complicated by the continual shifts in the landscape, “likely driven in part by changes in the criteria for testing and hospital admission, by shifting care-seeking behaviour during the epidemic, and by increasing vaccination coverage”, they said.

The exponential increase in Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant means the number of confirmed active infections has doubled in five days and stood at 96,572 by close of business on Tuesday.

At the peak of the third wave on July 10, there were 211,052 active cases countrywide.

TimesLIVE


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