Third wave

Western Cape sees Covid-19 surge during plateau as mobility across province increases

With more than 46,000 active cases the risk is still high, warns department of health

19 August 2021 - 13:15
By tanya farber AND Tanya Farber
Gatherings still pose a risk as the number of infectious cases in the Western Cape is more than 46,000.
Image: 123RF/perig76 Gatherings still pose a risk as the number of infectious cases in the Western Cape is more than 46,000.

The Western Cape saw a surge in Covid-19 cases after it had already hit a plateau, and its department of health has attributed this to higher mobility across the province.

According to the head of health, Dr Keith Cloete, “We noticed on our graphs that there was a surge after we had already reached a plateau. We then looked at our mobility data and it became clearer.”

The analysis team found that when residential mobility was at its highest, the numbers began to plateau.

That’s because residential mobility means people are staying in their home or areas, which implies far less moving about beyond the home.

Behind that was lockdown restrictions but, adds Cloete, “This happened to be at the same time as the taxi violence. There was a lot less movement and numbers plateaued.”

“Then the taxi violence stopped, schools reopened, and the mobility at household level dropped, which means people were going out to other places. That’s when we see an increase in daily cases and this resulted in a secondary surge on top of our third wave,” he explained.

There are now 46,395 active infectious cases in the province, a 4,169 increase from the previous week.

Despite this slight surge imposed on a plateau, the department said there are early signs of a decrease.

The positivity rate has dropped to 37%, hospitalisations have dropped by 8% and deaths by 17%.

However, with more than 46,000 active cases in the province, said Cloete, “The risk of being exposed is still very high and we are still telling people that early signs of a decline does not mean we are out of the woods. Gatherings still pose a very high risk.”

Another phenomenon that has shown up on graphs in the province is that more people under the age of 20 have been infected. 

“A bigger portion than before of young people have been infected, but this has resulted in only a very small increase in admissions to hospital. We are not seeing more severe cases, so it’s just a case of picking up more numbers.

“It could be because we’ve been doing more testing and that more older people are now vaccinated. It could also be because schools opened, but this is very carefully monitored and managed on a school-by-school basis and, gladly, we are seeing a tailing off of those cases too.”