As predicted, Gauteng is in the grips of a fourth wave of Covid infections with the number of infections rising exponentially on a daily basis. Encouragingly, although the number of infections are high, the number of hospitalisations are lower than in any of the previous waves.
The discovery of the Omicron variant in late November spurred many countries to impose travel bans to and from South Africa in what has been criticized as a knee-jerk political decision that is not founded on science.
The reality is that ever since we exited the third wave in September, many of us have been letting our guards down, becoming perhaps a tad too complacent. We socialised more than we did in the past 18 months, wore masks only when strictly necessary, washed our hands a little less and used sanitiser more as a token gesture rather through a concerted effort at keeping the virus at bay.
Covid, however, is not a virus that seems to like being relegated to the backburner or the fourth page of the newspaper. The new Omicron variant appears to have an unprecedented transmission rate requiring analysts to recalibrate their projection models. At the current rate it is expected that Gauteng will hit the peak of the fourth wave by mid-December, with high levels of transmission expected to continue until mid-January.
On 1 December the much anticipated Ballito Matric Rage was cancelled after 32 guests and four staff members tested positive for Covid. Although the Plett Matric Rage was initially set to continue with a vaccine mandate and compulsory Covid-19 testing, this event too was cancelled late on 2 December, just hours before it was due to commence. In a release announcing the cancellation, the organisers conceded that they were “shattered” but added that “there is no doubt in our minds that this is the right decision” given the high number of infections.
The panic that is resulting from the rapid increase in infection rates is once again causing an increased demand for fogging even though this has been debunked as a method of sanitising. The Covid virus does not remain suspended in the air which is why fogging is a wasted effort. The virus is far more likely to be transmitted from one person to another either through a direct air path, sneezing, coughing or landing on a frequently touched surface. Fogging after an infected person has left a room, however, has not proved to be effective.
A far more effective way of reducing transmission is to wear a face mask, ensure maximum ventilation to prevent air transmission, social distancing, interacting with others outside in the fresh air rather than indoors, frequently washing hands and sanitising hands. Be wary of public high-touch surfaces such as escalator handle bars, credit card machine key pads and shopping trolley handles and baskets. Use sanitising wipes when available and sanitise your hands after you have touched any high-touch surface. If you haven’t had your vaccination yet, get vaccinated.
Many of the new Covid cases appear to have relatively mild symptoms and are in some cases even asymptomatic.
However, just because early anecdotal evidence suggests that the Omicron variant is less virulent should not be a reason to lower your guard. Despite a general fatigue around all things Covid-related, now is perhaps not the ideal time to be arranging a get-together of your closest 50 friends. Neither, however, should the fourth wave be a cause for panic. Implement all the necessary protection mechanisms, stock up on a good quality hand sanitiser and for the next few weeks at the very least, ramp up on your safety protocols.
Infection Protection Products – Sani-touch, manufacturers of the popular Saniwipes trolley and hand sanitising wipes recently announced a collaboration with Africa’s largest retailer, the Shoprite Group, to recycle wipes from its 1 328 supermarkets nationwide.
By Annette Devenish, Marketing Director at Sani-touch
Sani-touch are the manufacturers of the very first trolley wipes to the South African market in 2006. The Sani-touch range of products, which includes medical wipes and sanitizer, is part of Infection Protection Products, a family run business with over 30 years of local manufacturing experience supplying detergent disinfectant and sanitising products primarily to the retail and medical industries.