Scientists say 4th wave vastly different to previous surges

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said 11,125 new COVID-19 cases had been recorded during the last reporting period.

FILE: Nurse Salome Nkoana, acting operational manager of COVID-19 ward at the Tembisa Hospital, checks the history of a patient infected with COVID-19 in Tembisa, on March 2, 2021. Picture: Guillem Sartorio / AFP

CAPE TOWN - Scientists on Monday stressed the characteristics of the COVID-19 pandemic's fourth wave are vastly different from what was experienced with previous surges.

They said there was now a far more rapid uptick in the number of new coronavirus cases being recorded daily when compared to the pandemic's third wave.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases said 11,125 new COVID-19 cases had been recorded during the last reporting period.

Gauteng accounts for 71% of these new infections.

Professor Bruce Mellado, senior scientist at iThemba LABS and member of the Gauteng Premier COVID-19 Advisory Committee, said: "We see very rapid growth in the number of cases. The way the virus propagates is extremely fast at a speed that we haven't seen before. There is speculation whether that is related to intrinsic close proximity."

Mellado said in Gauteng, they'd also seen different patterns in people hospitalised with COVID-19.

"We see that younger cohorts are much more represented in hospitalisations, people below 40 now dominate hospitalisation."