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S Afr Med J ; 112(5b): 366-370, 2022 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1897103


In South Africa (SA), the first case of COVID-19 was reported on 5 March 2020 from a traveller who had returned from Italy. Increases in COVID-19 cases and deaths necessitated the design and implementation of community screening, testing, and tracing as a control strategy. The SA government's plans to implement community-based screening, testing, contact tracing and movement modelling during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic presented both opportunities and challenges. In this article, we present our experiences, opportunities and lessons for community-based COVID-19 response, anchoring these efforts in the primary healthcare system.

COVID-19 , COVID-19/diagnosis , Contact Tracing , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa/epidemiology
S Afr Med J ; 112(5b): 361-365, 2022 May 31.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1897101


By May 2021, South Africa (SA) had experienced two 'waves' of COVID-19 infections, with an initial peak of infections reached in July 2020, followed by a larger peak of infections in January 2021. Public health decisions rely on accurate and timely disease surveillance and epidemiological analyses, and accessibility of data at all levels of government is critical to inform stakeholders to respond effectively. In this paper, we describe the adaptation, development and operation of epidemiological surveillance and modelling systems in SA in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, including data systems for monitoring laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations, mortality and recoveries at a national and provincial level, and how these systems were used to inform modelling projections and public health decisions. Detailed descriptions on the characteristics and completeness of individual datasets are not provided in this paper. Rapid development of robust data systems was necessary to support the response to the SA COVID-19 epidemic. These systems produced data streams that were used in decision-making at all levels of government. While much progress was made in producing epidemiological data, challenges remain to be overcome to address gaps to better prepare for future waves of COVID-19 and other health emergencies.

COVID-19 , Epidemics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Government , Humans , Public Health , South Africa/epidemiology
Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326899


A new SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern, Omicron (B.1.1.529), has been identified based on genomic sequencing and epidemiological data in South Africa. Presumptive Omicron cases in South Africa have grown extremely rapidly, despite high prior exposure and moderate vaccination coverage. The available evidence suggests that Omicron spread is at least in part due to evasion of this immune protection, though Omicron may also exhibit higher intrinsic transmissibility. Using detailed laboratory and epidemiological data from South Africa, we estimate the constraints on these two characteristics of the new variant and their relationship. Our estimates and associated uncertainties provide essential information to inform projection and scenario modeling analyses, which are crucial planning tools for governments around the world.