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Covid-19 infections spread a headache for NCCC council ahead of Ramaphosa's address

An overview of Clifton Beach in Cape Town. The city’s beaches remain full during the summer days of Covid-19 as social distancing seems to be ignored in some places. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

An overview of Clifton Beach in Cape Town. The city’s beaches remain full during the summer days of Covid-19 as social distancing seems to be ignored in some places. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 14, 2020


Cape Town – As the coronavirus spirals out of control, how best to contain it seems to be the conundrum that the government is facing, with President Cyril Ramaphosa cancelling an address to the nation on Sunday after his National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) could not agree on the best way forward.

The president's spokesperson Tyrone Seale said Ramaphosa would address the nation today, and they would provide an update on what time the address will take place.

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Some of the measures discussed were stricter curfew times, earlier closing times for restaurants, further limitations on gatherings such as funerals and new rules around beaches. It follows in excess of 8 000 new cases on Friday.

In the Western Cape, where record high infections have been registered, people flocked to the beaches, making the most of the balmy weather, with very few social distancing and mask-wearing in sight.

Concerns have been expressed over the potential impact of December holiday celebrations and the abuse of alcohol on the country's health system. Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday the country had officially entered a second wave.

He said young people between the ages of 15 and 19 were now the main drivers of the virus and warned if the country’s current Covid-19 trajectory continued, the health-care systems would be overwhelmed.

DA spokesperson on tourism Manny De Freitas said: “Considering that experience shows that any such “interventions” by government has done nothing to curb the spread of Covid-19 but decimated the tourism industry, it is concerning that government is considering such proposals. Closing beaches during the festive season, the time of the year when most people flock to beaches, will bury the tourism, travel and accommodation sectors near beaches.”

The Western Cape's Department of Health said the Northern and Tygerberg sub-districts in the metro have been identified as a great concern with an increase of recorded Covid-19 infections this week in Bothasig, Bonteheuwel, Delft, Durbanville and Kraaifontein.

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Contact tracing lead Delaray Fourie said: “There is no power in numbers this festive season; this means that we need to avoid crowded spaces or large gatherings. If you do enter a crowded space, like a shop or beach, remember to wear your mask and keep a distance. We cannot let our guards down. The virus is still here. Power in numbers during Covid-19 means that we band together and keep each other safe by following the rules.”

The Northern Tygerberg sub-district had shown a significant increase in new cases over the past seven days, the active cases in the northern suburbs recorded 721 active cases last week where the Tygerberg district recorded 989 active cases. In addition both also recorded six and 15 new deaths, respectively.

Premier Alan Winde said: “As a province, we have worked around the clock to put in place life-saving measures to reduce the numbers of people who are severely affected by Covid-19. We have built field hospitals to ensure that everyone receives appropriate care, we implemented high-flow nasal oxygen as a treatment method and have put in place the VECTOR project which has had a significant impact in reducing the risks of Covid-19 for diabetics in the province.

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“While these interventions have saved lives, the best way to save lives is to slow the spread of Covid-19 in the province and reduce the number of people who contract it in the first place.”

Provincial Department of Health spokesperson Mark van der Heever said the department was monitoring the situation closely.

“We are not at this stage considering more field hospitals. Our 450 field hospital beds have been more than enough. Hospitals have 7 000 beds space capacity and we are monitoring the situation closely and each demographic area will evaluate the situation,” he said.

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Meanwhile, the City said it has advised residents and customers to anticipate disruptions to basic services, City operations and customer offices. The City said the majority of its 34 overflow facilities, opened earlier this year to increase capacity at clinics in light of the pandemic, remained active, as were the mobile testing booths set up at a number of clinics.

Cape Argus