KwaZulu-Natal yet to see increase in Covid-19 numbers after unrest, looting

30 July 2021 - 11:07 By amanda khoza
A police officer inspects the aftermath of rioting and looting in KZN. File photo.
A police officer inspects the aftermath of rioting and looting in KZN. File photo.

KwaZulu-Natal says is yet to see the impact on the number of Covid-19 infections following the violent unrest and looting that led to scores of people being killed and damaged infrastructure worth billions of rand.

“The unrest in the province has not shown a different picture. We have been getting fluctuating figures,” said provincial health department head Dr Sandile Tshabalala.

The department had anticipated a sharp increase in the number of infections following the riots and looting.

Although unrest also took place in Gauteng, there have been concerns about KwaZulu-Natal, which has declared a provincial state of disaster, because people were seen looting without observing Covid-19 protocols and there were mass gatherings in Nkandla in the lead up to the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma.

“Our numbers are increasing slowly but we had expected that after the unrest the numbers would increase substantially. However, we have passed the seven-day period and have not seen a very big increase,” Tshabalala said on Friday morning. 

“We are monitoring that and hoping that it is not going to be the case, but we are preparing in case.” 

The province has, however, seen an increase in the mortality rate.

“We find some of the people dying are people who would have been self-isolating. We are trying to increase how we monitor those people while they are at home.”

The province has more than 4,900 beds available for Covid-19 patients, including for isolation and ICU, and an additional 834 field hospital beds.

“We are seeing occupation of these beds is very low with the private sector admitting more patients than the public sector,” Tshabalala said. “However, we are ready and we are doing as much as we can to admit people if the need arises.

Only 24% of isolation beds are occupied and 38% of ICU beds.

“We have encouraged people, when they get sick or test positive and their relatives are unable to take care of them, to be admitted.”

The province has 202 vaccination sites and more than 1.2-million people have been vaccinated.

The province is aiming to vaccinate more than 50,000 people per day.

The national health department’s deputy director-general, Dr Anban Pillay, said: “Nationally we continue to see a decrease in case numbers. We are closely monitoring KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape because we anticipate an increase in those provinces.

“The Delta variant remains the dominant variant in the country.”