The Western Cape has passed the peak of its fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.
In a digital briefing on Thursday, Western Cape health department head Keith Cloete said the province had reached the peak on Thursday, 23 December with an average of 3 700 new infections per day.
Currently, the average number of daily new infections is 2 220, according to the seven-day moving average.
Cloete said the number of active cases in the province was “coming down sharply”.
However, he cautioned, the decreases could be due to the effect of the recent public holidays on testing patterns.
For the province to exit the fourth wave, the Western Cape will need to record less than 600 new infections per day, Cloete said. So far, Gauteng is the only province to have exited the fourth wave.
Predictions by the South African Modelling Consortium suggest the Western Cape could leave the fourth wave within the next two or three weeks. The consortium has predicted an average of around 740 cases in this week, with around 640 cases next week.
According to the provincial health department, case numbers and test positivity in this wave have exceeded other waves. However, Cloete added that the fourth wave has shown a widening gap between the number of new infections and hospital admissions and deaths.
Daily new hospital admissions have “plateaued” at around 225 admissions per day, Cloete said. Hospital admissions are currently at around 64% of those during the peak of the third wave.
Cloete added that while the number of Covid-19-related deaths had been increasing since the middle of December, these numbers remain low. As of Thursday, there was an average of 29 deaths a day.
Deaths are at around 24% of those at the peak of the third wave.
According to the national Department of Health, on Wednesday, the province recorded 2 834 new infections – 26% of all new cases in the country.