COVID cases wastewater

The COVID positivity rate is at its highest number in two months – Photo: Unsplash

‘Proof is in the poo’: New data says COVID cases set to spike in SA

The latest information collected from sewage samples suggests that South Africa is heading for an increase in new COVID cases…

COVID cases wastewater

The COVID positivity rate is at its highest number in two months – Photo: Unsplash

Ahh well, we’ve had a good run. In the same month that State of Disaster regulations were lifted, it would appear that new COVID cases are on the rise – and according to new wastewater samples, the proof really is in the poo…

Wastewater data points towards rise in COVID cases

It’s been confirmed by several sources that, although new infections remain under-reported by official channels, something is quite literally in the water right now. The prevalence of COVID has reached its highest rate since 17 February, if we also look at test positivity rates in isolation.

Now, having just 887 new infections really doesn’t sound like a big deal. But that comes from a sample size of just under 9 000 tests. At almost 10%, this positivity rate is giving our scientists something to think about.

  • The test positivity rate has now hit 9.6%. Roughly 1 in 10 people testing for the virus are COVID-positive.
  • This is just about double the rate we were seeing at the end of March.
  • Although only 877 positive cases were recorded yesterday, the 9.6% incidence rate marks a nine-week high.
  • However, with fewer people testing and more asymptomatic cases being reported, this doesn’t tell the whole story.
  • South Africa’s latest recorded wastewater samples reveal that there has been a ‘substantial increase’ in COVID cases.
  • As Bloomberg report, Professor Shabir Madhi notes that sewage water surveillance ‘shows a rise in virus circulation’.

Something to worry about? Perhaps not…

The truth is, though, that a spike in cases doesn’t have to put the entire country on red alert. Far from it, actually. When Omicron arrived on our shores in November 2021, there was an outpouring of panic about the new variant.

However, after a few weeks, our clinical data revealed that this strain was nowhere near as dangerous as previous ones. Death rates and hospitalisations remained flat, and the whole episode passed without any extra restrictions being enforced. COVID is going to be with us for a very long time – so peaks and troughs are to be expected.