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Second wave incoming? What you need to know about Eastern & Western Cape Covid-19 'resurgence'

26 November 2020 - 14:30 By cebelihle bhengu
Western Cape premier Alan Winde.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde.
Image: Twitter/Alan Winde

The Western Cape on Wednesday warned its residents about a “resurgence” in Covid-19 cases.

Premier Alan Winde said infections in the province increased by 52.1% over the past week.

Winde said the spike is a cause for concern and urged residents to play their part in preventing the further spread of the virus.

Also in the spotlight is the Eastern Cape which had 121,329 positive cases by Thursday.

Last week, health minister Zweli Mkhize blamed the increase on social behaviour and announced that the department would announce interventions during its visit to the province on Thursday.

Here are five things you need to know about the spike in Covid-19 cases in the two provinces:

Where are the Western Cape hotspots?

Winde said there is an increase in community transmissions, and that the growth in infections is primarily driven by the Garden Route and Cape Metro, which are some of the hotspots. Winde said there are now more cases in George and Knysna subdistricts than at any point in the pandemic to date.

Last week, the province issued an urgent hotspot alert after a spike in infections in George, Knysna and Bitou. The province said it would increase screening and testing in the hotspots to arrest further spread of the virus.

Winde warned that the City of Cape Town metro is about 10-14 days behind.

“While the growth in cases province-wide has mainly been driven by these two districts, we are also worried about the Cape Winelands, which is starting to record a concerning number of new cases.

“The Overberg District, Central Karoo District and West Coast district are being closely monitored given their proximity to these hotspots,” he said.

'Staggering' increase in hospitalisations

Winde said the 63% spike in hospitalisations in the province is concerning. In private hospitals, admissions have increased by 94% while in the public sector, there has been a 39%  increase.

The premier said critical care admissions have increased by 75% since the start of November.

“Hospitalisations reached a low of under 500 in September, and they have now reached 904 as of yesterday [Tuesday]. There are now 431 people in public hospitals and 473 in private hospitals in the Western Cape.

“In the last 24-hour reporting period alone, the number of people being hospitalised for Covid-19 increased by a staggering 54 people,” he said.

Will there be another hard lockdown?

Winde said the province has rolled out key health-care facilities to ensure that all hospitalised patients receive quality care. He said a return to lockdown is not an option as this would cost the province jobs and livelihoods.

“We also cannot afford a lockdown again, as is being witnessed in many European countries right now. Our economy simply cannot afford it. A lockdown would kill jobs and cause our humanitarian disaster to worsen. This will also cost lives in the future.  

“There is therefore only one option available to us all. We have to bring the situation under control through our own actions. We have to do everything possible to ensure that we do not get infected by Covid-19 and that we do not spread Covid-19.”

Rising cases in the Eastern Cape

Meanwhile, Mkhize said the department is concerned about the rising daily infections in the Eastern Cape. During the peak of infections, the province had 13,000 positive cases daily, but these decreased to 1,000.

“The Eastern Cape on a daily basis becomes responsible for between 50% and 55% of new positive cases recorded,” he said.

“All our indications on the ground are that the number of positive people has increased — particularly in Nelson Mandela Bay, the number of people who are dying is noted and the number of people who are positive.”

How will it affect the festive season?

The minister said he trusts that the people of the Eastern Cape and South Africans can prevent a spike in Covid-19 cases during and after the festive season.

“What happens here will show us how we approach the festive season. All along, we were quite happy with level 1, that things can be done since it's level 1 and we're comfortable. But if we're going to turn the situation the other way, we're now throwing ourselves into a bit of uncertainty about how we will go through the festive season.”