Cape Town - As new Covid-19 infections in the country hit the 20 000 mark, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said the province was on the brink of the fourth wave which should begin, based on the NICD definition, by the end of this week.
Mbombo was speaking during a special debate in the legislature on the development of the pandemic and the importance of vaccinations in the fourth wave of Covid-19.
She said for now the Western Cape was still technically in a resurgence.
“In the last 24 hours, we have recorded 403 new infections, 171 new hospitalisations and nil deaths. Our current number of active cases is now 7 653, with a total of 137 hospitalisations and 37 in high care or ICU.”
She said the Province had been closely monitoring the new variant, Omicron, and its implications in terms of new admissions as well as for deaths.
She said at the moment it appeared that the increase in Covid-19 cases was taking place at a faster rate than previous waves but was not being matched by the same increase in hospitalisations and deaths.
“Unfortunately, it is simply too soon to draw any conclusion on this, because mostly young people, who are lower risk, are currently infected,” Mbombo said.
Premier Alan Winde welcomed the the SA Health Product Regulatory Authority’s approval of a third “booster” vaccination for adults in South Africa, at least six months after the second dose.
“The Western Cape is ready to roll-out a booster programme as soon as EVDS enables it. We have been planning for this programme, and we can confirm today that we are ready to go.”
The debate’s sponsor, DA chief whip Mireille Wenger, said the urgency for vaccination had increased with the emergence of the Omicron variant.
“One thing we know for sure is that vaccinations do work. Those who are vaccinated against Covid-19 are far less likely to be hospitalised or suffer long-term illnesses from the virus. We need to focus on getting as many people vaccinated as possible.”
ANC chief whip Pat Lekker took issue with Finance MEC David Maynier and City mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis for criticising Health Minister Joe Phaahla's announcement the new variant.
She queried the closing of the CTICC vaccination site when there was still a huge number of people who need to be vaccinated.
Freedom Front Plus MPL Peter Marais said the country was suffering from information overload on the vaccine.
“Others spread fake news on social media platforms adding to fears, depression and feelings of hopelessness and confusion.”
ACDP provincial leader Ferlon Christians reiterated his party’s stance against vaccine mandates.
ANC provincial health spokesperson Rachel Windvogel said: “Youth are the most vaccine hesitant population group, accounting for only 39.6% of vaccination in the age group between 18-34 years.
“The 60 years and older group has over 70% vaccinated persons, while the 50-59 years group has 61.6% and the 35-49 years recorded 53.4% vaccinations.”