Province needs to balance health needs with opening the economy - WC premier Alan Winde
Western Cape premier Alan Winde said on Thursday that he “really would not like to go back to level 5 lockdown" because the province needs to open its economy.
He appealed to residents to help prevent this.
The Western Cape has 4,049 people with Covid-19 — almost half the people infected in SA — and 76 people had died of it in the province.
“The number of deaths is higher because we have more established community transmission and, because we have more cases, we have more deaths,” said provincial health chief Dr Keith Cloete at a joint briefing.
Asked whether level 5 was likely, given the concentration of cases in the province, the premier replied: “Of course, there is always this possibility [to return to level 5] but, as of now, we are monitoring and managing the system.”
The province needs to balance its health needs with opening the economy, said Winde.
“The whole reason for lockdown is to slow down infections to try to get our health system in place.”
The Western Cape has set up and expanded testing and triage systems and increased bed space for Covid-19 admissions during lockdown.
“We need a few more weeks to get all of that in place and, once this is in place, it will enable even further opening up,” said Winde.
Yet he warned: “The stage we are in is community transmissions, where this virus is being caught at your local store and where you gather to get social grants.
“I want to go out and say to people, please help us when you gather ... as the economy opens up, new front lines [for infection] will open up. Please make sure to wear masks and follow social distancing.”
The province needs time to get ready to deal with the rising curve of infections — currently doubling every eight days.
“You must understand that our numbers will continue to increase because we have community transmission happening now,” said Winde.
Asked whether the province could overrule the national ban on alcohol and cigarette sales, he said not.
“No, we can't. It is a disaster declaration and we have to, as a country, abide by the regulations that come out,” he said, adding that the Western Cape tried to motivate and influence potential changes.