As the government relaxes the containment measures, coronavirus infections are likely to increase gradually and then increase exponentially, Prof. Salim Abdool Karim, epidemiologist and chairman of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, said on Thursday.
Abdool Karim and his wife, prof. Quarraisha Abdool Karim, one of the world’s leading Aids researchers, participated in a webinar of the Bhekisisa Health Journalism Center.
South Africa is getting ready to start its containment regulations by Friday. More and more people will be able to return to their workplaces under strict measures and schools are also preparing to gradually reopen their doors.
However, lighter levels of containment do not mean the end of Covid-19 is in sight, says Abdool Karim.
“We’re going to see many outbreaks – in schools, in workplaces, in shopping malls. This is going to happen … We are going to see a slow, gradual rise (in cases). And then inflation – a sudden rise in cases. Then there will be action again to flatten the curve, ”says Abdool Karim.
He suspects such a sharp rise in infections may already occur in July, but cites models of the country’s mathematicians show that the outbreak can only be spearheaded in August or September.
The Abdool Karim couple reassured webinar participants that there are teams of experts working like “firefighters” to curb the “flames” of the virus.
“It doesn’t help to panic, we just have to deal with it,” says Abdool Karim.
However, a sharp increase in cases will mean that the reins of containment are tightened again. “We cannot prevent the virus from spreading. We will need to find a way to live with it, knowing that there is a threat while doing what we can to move on with our lives.