Covid-19 cases South Africa
(Getty Images)
  • South Africa has recorded a daily average of just 637 new Covid-19 cases over the past week.
  • The last time the country saw levels of infection this low was during the early stages of the pandemic, in May 2020.
  • Hospital admissions and Covid-19 deaths are also drastically down.
  • But in Europe, and especially the United Kingdom, infections are on the rise.
  • For more stories go to

South Africa’s new daily confirmed Covid-19 cases – measured as a rolling 7-day average – has dropped to levels last seen in May 2020, before the country experienced its first wave of infection.

South Africa has recorded a daily average of 637 new Covid-19 cases over the past week, down almost 97% from the third wave’s peak in early July. This represents roughly 10.3 new cases for every million people in South Africa, an infection rate last seen in mid-May 2020, less than three months after the country’s first case was detected.

During that second week of May, South Africa was conducting roughly 14,000 tests a today compared to the 27,000 recorded as a rolling 7-day average by 19 October. By Tuesday, the test to positivity rate hovered around 2%, far lower than rates recorded when South Africa exited the first wave in October 2020 and the second wave between March and April.

Fewer than 5,000 people were in hospital with Covid-19 by Tuesday, according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), down around 65% in two months. This drop is also evident in new daily admissions recorded over the past week to the week prior, which has decreased by 18%.

Similarly, new daily confirmed Covid-19 deaths in South Africa, measured as a rolling 7-day average, declined to 35 or 0.58 per million people by Tuesday. This low mortality rate was last seen in early April and, before that, in early June 2020.

And the proportion testing positive (PTP) among tests is now at its lowest point ever, a new report published on Wednesday showed.

And while South Africa is seeing a drastic drop-off in Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions, and deaths, other parts of the world are seeing a resurgence.

This is particularly true for Europe, which has an infection rate of 233 new daily cases per million people, measured as a rolling 7-day average, up more than 50% over the past month. A similar infection rate has been recorded in the United States (US), although new daily cases have almost halved during the same period, showing a steady downward trajectory.

Covid-19 cases South Africa
(Data supplied by Our World In Data)

Cases in the United Kingdom (UK) are also on the rise, with the 7-day rolling average of new daily cases at 651 per million people, one of the highest rates in the world. Concerns around the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant, AY.4.2, a subtype of Delta, which is said to be 10% more infectious, is keeping scientists on high alert.

South Africa’s average daily infection rate, relative to the population size, is lower than that recorded in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.

On the African continent, South Africa’s confirmed new daily case rate is lower than that recorded in Botswana, Namibia, and Morocco but higher than Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria.

Covid-19 cases South Africa
(Data supplied by Our World In Data)

But concerns about South Africa’s fourth Covid-19 wave persist, especially within the context of a slow vaccination rate and upcoming municipal elections which could trigger super spreader events. The next resurgence is expected in December.

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