Professor Salim Abdool Karim has warned that the current decline in the daily number of COVID-19 infections was not an indication that the worst was over yet. The Times reports that Abdool Karim, chair of the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee and one of the country’s most esteemed epidemiologists, was speaking during a webinar hosted by the Gauteng General Practitioners Collaboration.
“If we let our guard down or for a short while get complacent about our prevention strategies, our social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing, the second surge is waiting to pounce,” he said.
Abdool Karim added that it was possible to defeat the virus. “It is possible to overcome – these predictions do not have to be true.”
“Is the worst behind us? Not entirely so,” said Abdool Karim, who warned that South Africans needed to maintain strict masking, physical distancing and to still limit gathering in order to ward off the second wave of infections. Abdool Karim said in a Daily Maverick report that South Africa should aim to maintain a curve like Germany’s where the epidemic was regarded as “simmering” – still present but at low and manageable numbers.
“You really can’t let your guard down. The second surge is waiting to pounce,” he said, pointing to the epidemic’s double peak in the US and even in countries like Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea, which had been regarded as the top strategists in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreaks.
“Every one of them has been dealing with a second surge,” said Abdool Karim. The task now is to maintain COVID-19 infections at a German-like “simmer” and to avoid super-spreader events.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said South Africa’s challenge now is to “ride the momentum to keep the curve flat”. Mkhize said that field hospitals around the country and including the one at Nasrec in Gauteng (one of the country’s largest), were being dismantled.
He said that COVID-19 had built unity in the health system – among government, scientists and the wider medical fraternity – and this unity, as well as emergency investments in health services and infrastructure – laid a good foundation for universal healthcare.
Full report in The Times
Full Daily Maverick report