Superspreaders: Despite warnings, festival and matric party go ahead in Western Cape

07 December 2020 - 17:17 By tanya farber
Plett Rage (pictured here in a previous year) has been cancelled, but other festivals and private parties have gone ahead in the Western Cape.
Plett Rage (pictured here in a previous year) has been cancelled, but other festivals and private parties have gone ahead in the Western Cape.
Image: Shelley Christians

Despite strong warnings that a Covid-19 resurgence was under way and that large gatherings should be avoided, pockets of people in the Western Cape ignored these and contributed to the uptick in infection numbers.

Anton Bredell, minister of local government, environmental affairs and development planning, confirmed on Monday that several parties had been held in the Garden Route and the Central Karoo. These included a “Cooler Box Festival in Ladismith in the Central Karoo” and a private matric party in Knysna. Both have led to “multiple infections”.

DUB worx, the organisers of the Coolerbox Festival, put out a statement on social media two days before the event, saying they were “fully aware of the recent Covid-19 spike in positive cases in our district and municipal area” but that the event “would proceed as advertised and planned”.

The organisers claimed to have put “renewed emphasis on preventative protocols”. Nonetheless, it became a superspreading event.

Such events and the resultant pressure on the health system are despite ongoing alerts from the provincial government and, said Bredell, “infections and hospitalisations continue to increase rapidly” in the Garden Route and “additional medical equipment and medical personnel have been deployed to key areas”.

At  the weekend, the Western Cape disaster management centre and its stakeholders conducted multiple operations across the province and reported that “a major concern are parties and other large social gatherings in some parts of the province and which have led to multiple confirmed infections among attendees”.

Bredell has warned yet again: “This is not the time to hold big parties, regardless of the reason. If we wish to have a safe, happy festive season, it is critical to keep our guard up and to be responsible.”

Bredell urged the public to beware of "the three Cs":

  • crowded areas;
  • confined spaces; and
  • close contact.

“Wash and sanitise your hands regularly and wear a mask when going out in public, remembering to wear it properly, fully covering both your mouth and nose,” he added.

Some of the actions taken over the past weekend included vehicle checkpoints in the Central Karoo, club and restaurant inspections in the CBD of Cape Town and a visit by provincial public works minister Bonginkosi Madikizela at a long-distance bus interchange in Philippi East.

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