Rapid spike in Covid-19 cases in the Western Cape, but hospital admissions not rising as quickly

The Western Cape will officially enter the fourth wave, when the 7-day-moving average of new daily infections reaches 30% of the previous peak, Premier Alan Winde said. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

The Western Cape will officially enter the fourth wave, when the 7-day-moving average of new daily infections reaches 30% of the previous peak, Premier Alan Winde said. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 9, 2021


Cape Town - The Western Cape is fast approaching its fourth wave, with new infections increasing at a rapid rate, but the province’s hospital admissions have not increased at the same rate.

This was announced by the provincial government on Thursday, when Premier Alan Winde said that at the current trajectory of new infections the province would soon enter the fourth wave.

It will officially do so when the seven-day-moving average of new daily infections reached 30% of the previous peak, Winde said. For the moment, the province was just in a resurgence – this meant there had been a steep increase in cases, but case numbers remained relatively low.

Premier Alan Winde added that at this stage, while there had been an increase in hospital admissions, they had not shown the same rapid increase as the new infections.

“However, it is too soon to tell as to whether this trend will continue because the new infections are mostly among younger residents, who generally have milder disease.

“What we do know is that top scientists are of the expert view that vaccinations will continue to provide protection against severe illness and death, and that is why our vaccination programme in the province has never been more important,” Winde said.

The Western Cape health platform data indicates the following:

  • The province is now seeing steep increases in the number of daily new cases, with, on average, 665 new diagnoses per day. The Western Cape will reach the fourth wave when this hits about 1 100 cases per day, on a seven-day rolling average.
  • The proportion of tests coming back positive has increased to an average of 20%.
  • Admissions are showing signs of an early increase with 19 admissions per day. Deaths remain low with fewer than two deaths per day.
  • Overall, there is a 587% week-on-week increase in cases in the metro, and 326% week-on-week increase in rural areas, albeit off lower bases.
  • All sub-districts in the metro are seeing increases in cases.
  • All rural districts are also seeing increases in case,s except in the Central Karoo.
  • There is a clear private sector predominance of those being infected.
  • The reproduction number reached a high of 2.5. It is higher than in second and third waves.

“In terms of projections for the week ahead, the South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium expects this steep increase in Covid-19 cases to continue next week, with numbers rising to an average of 3 156 a day in the Western Cape.

“This would be as high as the third wave peak. Their projections for this week were largely correct,” Winde said. The Western Cape had, meanwhile, adopted a resurgence plan to ensure it was prepared for the fourth wave.

Winde said that the provincial government had adopted a data-led evidence-based approach to saving lives throughout the pandemic, and “this will continue as we now respond to the imminent fourth wave through our six-point plan”.

The province aims to:

  1. Change community behaviour to prevent infection, through sustainable and affordable interventions based on current evidence.
  2. Ensure ongoing surveillance, particularly with hospital admissions. While it will be vigilant of the growth of cases, the primary focus will be on health service pressure to save lives.
  3. Support and maintain its mass vaccination campaign.
  4. Tritate the health platform to ensure there is the capacity needed to respond. This will be done through pre-determined triggers, that will enable the province to bring field hospital and other capacity online when it is needed.
  5. Maintain comprehensive health service, with a particular focus on mitigating the impact that de-escalation may have on chronic disease care.
  6. Safeguard the well-being of health-care workers, through vaccination as well as healing and mental health programmes.

“We will ensure that we are as responsive as possible so that we continue to provide care to every person who needs it, when they need it,” Winde said.

Cape Argus