SA is moving to a level 3 lockdown — but will Western Cape also be moving?

21 May 2020 - 07:32
By Unathi Nkanjeni
Alan Winde says the province will focus on the places where the virus is spreading, to slow it down and protect vulnerable people.
Image: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Jaco Marais Alan Winde says the province will focus on the places where the virus is spreading, to slow it down and protect vulnerable people.

Will the Western Cape move to a level 3 lockdown or will it remain on level 4? 

This is the question posed by many as some parts of the country are set to move at the end of May.

The province's confirmed Covid-19 cases account for over 60% of the cases in SA.

By Wednesday, it had 11,262 confirmed cases with 210 deaths.

Concerns

Earlier this month, health minister Zweli Mkhize expressed concerns that the Western Cape's hotspots, including Cape Town, may need tighter restrictions.

“We are dealing with a dynamic situation and will monitor and evaluate the progress in various parts.

“It must be expected there may be areas where it might not be the best way to just let everything get back to normal. We might need to consider heightened interventions of lockdown in various forms.”

On Monday, he reiterated that “we remain concerned about the developments in the Western Cape, with the total cumulative cases now comprising almost 60% of the national [number of] cumulative cases”.

“The new cases from the Western Cape comprise 76% of new cases from the past 24-hour cycle,” he said.

Hint

Trade minister Ebrahim Patel also hinted earlier this week that Cape Town could remain on level 4 lockdown.

He told eNCA that a “comparative analysis” spoke for itself after the DA requested that the lockdown be lifted in the province.

“We are very concerned about Cape Town. It is now an enormous outlier in terms of infections. We’ve done comparative analysis between all districts and provinces and, without question, this is a worry,” Patel said.

“There’s also a flow of transmission from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape. The virus can still flare up elsewhere. It could be Johannesburg or Durban next.”

Ready to move

According to Western Cape premier Alan Winde, the province has prepared its health care system for the peak and must move to level 3 in conjunction with the targeted hotspot strategy.

On Tuesday, in his detailed presentation, he said a targeted hotspot strategy was put into place and would focus on geographical areas where the virus was spreading to slow it down and protect vulnerable people.

“This is not a zero-sum game. We can care for sick people and save lives now, and we can do it in a way that saves lives in the future too.

“Covid-19 cannot be stopped and many people will be infected over the coming weeks. The key measure that must be used to determine levels is whether we are prepared to provide care to every person who needs it at the time they need it,” said Winde.

Preparedness

Winde said a Covid-19 provincial hotline for residents to call has been established and the Cape Town International Convention Centre converted into a temporary hospital facility that will provide about some 850 additional beds at the peak of the pandemic.

He also said the province estimated that 200 admissions and 200 discharges would be managed per day during the peak.

Temporary hospitals along the R300 route in the metro, in Khayelitsha and in the Cape Winelands would be opened and they would collectively provide an additional 616 beds.

“We launched an online screening tool which has assisted in screening 62,200 people and recruited 1,645 volunteers to support our health care workers when this peak arrives.

“We have ordered over more than R350m worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) so that our health care workers have the protection they need to care for every sick person. We aim to procure R550m worth of PPE over the course of the pandemic,” Winde said.