COVID-19 Fifth Wave Looms

THE local medical fraternity has warned of a possible fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as new infections increase.

Yesterday, the Health and Child Welfare ministry said it recorded 83 new COVID-19 cases, with 46 of them reported in Matabeleland South, at a school in Mangwe district.

As of May 7, there were 25 hospitalised cases, and 13 of the cases were of vaccinated individuals, while 12 were not vaccinated.

Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country heralded the start of a fifth wave, which has already struck neighbouring South Africa.

“There is a general increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, and it is not surprising. We are expecting the fifth wave to strike us any time. If you look at the trend, you will realise that South Africa is really under the fifth wave. We share the same border with South Africa, and whatever happens there might also affect us,” he said.

“We have a lot of Zimbabweans in South Africa who criss-cross between Zambia and South Africa often. If South Africa starts recording a number of high cases, it won’t take us three weeks to be affected again. We may need to get a bit worried, and be very much vigilant so that we do not drop our guard as we may face a fifth wave although probably less serious than what we experienced during the beginning,” Marisa added.

He urged citizens to adhere to all COVID-19 restrictions including masking up.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said teachers and pupils should not be worried about the increasing cases of COVID -19.

Ndoro said: “Our schools are the best barometer for detecting COVID-19. We have scientific surveillance that detects COVID-19 early, and we are able to capture it at an early stage. Learners and teachers are all sanitised before going to class.”

Ndoro said most learners aged 12 upwards were vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the World Health Organisation reported that Zimbabwe was among a number of African countries at risk of a COVID-19 fifth wave owing to underfunding.

Neighbouring South Africa declared a fifth COVID-19 wave early this month after a sustained rise in infections over the past 14 days seemingly driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants.

The variants were first detected in Botswana and South Africa with the Rainbow Nation having so far recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths on the entire African continent. _*NewsDay*_


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