The Western Cape Health Department is taking a keen interest in Khayelitsha where numbers have remained comparatively low across the sprawling township amid the second wave. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
The Western Cape Health Department is taking a keen interest in Khayelitsha where numbers have remained comparatively low across the sprawling township amid the second wave. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Khayelitsha’s low Covid-19 infections a puzzle for Western Cape officials

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Dec 23, 2020

Share this article:

Cape Town - As the numbers from the second wave of Covid-19 infection across the metro continue to rise, the Western Cape Health Department is taking a keen interest in Khayelitsha where numbers have remained comparatively low across the sprawling township.

Provincial head of Health, Dr Keith Cloete, said: “We have now exceeded the peak of the first wave and deaths are increasing rapidly. Overall in the metro, we’ve seen sharp increases in every geographic area in the metro except Khayelitsha.”

Asked what the reason for the lower numbers were, Cloete said: “We would not like to speculate, but if you remember, in Khayelitsha there was a significantly high burden the first time around and right now it might seem that some form of immunity from the first wave might be the factor that has influenced this, but we don’t know enough to explain.”

“It is important that we actually examine and see what the reason is for the lower experience in Khayelitsha the second time around,” said Cloete.

This emerged during Premier Alan Winde’s final digicon health update before Christmas at which it was also revealed that data showed that both hospitalisations and deaths in the Garden Route were decreasing but this could be reversed by super-spreader events.

On whether the Western Cape would follow the Eastern Cape in requesting restrictions be imposed by the national government, Winde said: “These are the things that we’ve got to look at. During this morning’s (Tuesday’s) cabinet meeting, we looked at what other areas we could consider. For instance, with Christmas coming up we have a meeting arranged this evening (Tuesday) with faith-based organisations to see how we can minimise gatherings as we did during Easter.

“We are looking first at the existing restrictions, such as those on alcohol which is linked to trauma cases in our hospitals, to see if they have had any effect. Trauma beds take a lot of resources and we need to ensure we have space there. And as we look at these, we will see whether any further restrictions are necessary,” said Winde.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said: “Over the next few weeks we expect to see our health-care system placed under enormous strain at a time when more beds will be needed than ever before. It is also happening at a time when our nurses, our doctors, and our clinicians have already been working flat out, under very stressful circumstances, since March.”

“The fact that our second wave is taking place over the festive season, normally the most social time of year, is further cause for deep concern. Under the circumstances our health system is fragile and while our front line staff were there throughout the first wave, they are now exhausted and we must do our best to give them a reprieve,” said Mbombo.

Meanwhile, commenting on the issue of hospitalisations in the province, the EFF’s provincial chairperson, Melikhaya Xego, said: “Currently the pressure on hospitals in the province is as a result of a high number of people suffering from severe Covid-19 infections and trauma-related cases as a result of alcohol consumption.

“People should avoid attending super-spreader events in this festive season. People should limit the excessive consumption of alcohol that would lead to fights and fatalities, both in public and private spaces. There should be no drink and driving as that would result in the increase in the number of trauma cases. People must follow government guidelines aimed at curbing trauma cases and fatalities,” said Xego

Cape Argus

Share this article: