COVID third wave may hit SA sooner than expected - Madhi

Vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi on Tuesday said he believed the third wave could come just after the Easter festivities.

FILE: Vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi said it was also unknown how the virus would react in the coming months. Picture: 123rf.

JOHANNESBURG - There are concerns that a third wave of COVID-19 infections may hit South Africa earlier than expected.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will move to level one lockdown, which allows for large gatherings of up to 250 people outdoors and a maximum of 100 indoors. Restrictions on alcohol sales have also been lifted.

FULL SPEECH: President Ramaphosa's national address on COVID-19 developments

Vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi on Tuesday said he believed the third wave could come just after the Easter festivities.

“Over the Easter period, for example, there’ll be large religious gatherings. Unfortunately, those type of gatherings will result in transmission, which means there’ll be an acceleration in terms of the onset of the resurgence.”

He said it was also unknown how the virus would react in the coming months.

Madhi said the threat of a third wave was inevitable, regardless of which lockdown level South Africa was placed under.

However, the vaccinology expert said public behaviour would have a bearing on how soon and how hard the third wave hits.

“As we head into the cooler months of the year in May/June, people are more likely to gather indoors, in poorly ventilated spaces... It's going to lead to an increase in transmission of the virus.”

LISTEN: Professor Shabir Madhi on COVID-19 and when SA could experience the third wave

Ramaphosa warned that the threat of a third wave of COVID-19 remains constantly present.

“The threat of a third wave is constantly present as is a threat of yet new variants.”

WATCH: SA moves back to level 1 lockdown