Sea Point promenade is still full of people without protection against the Covid-19 virus. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Sea Point promenade is still full of people without protection against the Covid-19 virus. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Western Cape averaging 60 deaths a day in third wave with number set to increase

By Mwangi Githahu, Theolin Tembo Time of article published Jul 15, 2021

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Cape Town - The current average number of deaths in the Western Cape has increased to 60 per day, according to the province’s seven-day moving average.

This number is expected to start rising steeply as we approach the peak of the third wave, according to Provincial Head of Health Dr Keith Cloete, who was delivering his presentation at Premier Alan Winde’s weekly digicon on the health platform and vaccine rollout strategy.

“We are accelerating towards a peak with increased hospitalisations. Deaths have also risen significantly in the last 10 days.”

Dr Cloete said that all provinces except KwaZulu-Natal are in a third wave and that in Gauteng, the number of cases is continuing to decrease.

A seven-day moving average is calculated by taking the deaths from the last seven days, adding them up then dividing by seven. It is this average that is then plotted on the graph. The figure “moves” every day, which is why they call it a moving average.

Cloete said: “Across the province, case numbers are continuing to increase. We are currently seeing an average of 2 335 new diagnoses each day. During the second wave’s peak, the figure was 3 060 cases per day.

“Hospital admissions are increasing, with an average of 280 new admissions per day. Deaths have also increased now, with around 60 deaths each day.”

Specifically, in the metro, there has been a 21% week-on-week increase in cases. He said most sub-districts are seeing increases in cases, except the Eastern sub-district, which may be starting to plateau.

“This plateauing could be due to data or operational delays, and so we will be monitoring it closely to see if the pattern is sustained,” said Dr Cloete.

While the province hasn’t come close to the average number of deaths during the second wave, it has surpassed the number of that first wave.

During the second wave, the province’s peaked averaged at 146 deaths per day, and in the first wave the peak was 46 deaths per day.

During the second wave, the province’s peaked averaged at 146 deaths per day, and in the first wave the peak was 46 deaths per day. Picture: Supplied

Addressing criticism that the Western Cape is not showing the full scope of cases in the third wave as it does not do Covid-19 testing at public sites for under 45s, the provincial health department said that it communicated on the possible severity of the third wave based on the modelling projection available at the time, which tracked the Beta variant.

"Over the last few weeks, the Delta variant has become more prominent across the country, and the modelling consortium has been asked to review the projections based on the new Delta variant.

“We await their further analysis and modelling projection,” spokesperson Mark van der Heever said.

“The Western Cape Department of Health has limited testing at public healthcare facilities in order to prevent major backlogs developing.

“This was a key lesson learnt during the first and second wave and enabled quick turn-around times in getting test results back to high-risk patients. This helps saves lives, as a quick diagnosis helps ensure careful monitoring and care to those who might need hospitalisation.”

Testing for the following groups are available:

  • people who are symptomatic and 45 years and older;
  • All persons who are symptomatic with co-morbidities,
  • All persons who are symptomatic and needing hospitalisation,
  • health care workers, and
  • people living in congregate settings

Van Der Heever said that even with the restricted criteria, the department said it has been testing more people than compared to before the start of the third wave.

This is likely to increase further as the third wave progresses, as is evident with the increase of the test positivity rate, he said.

“So, while the testing criteria are tightened, the actual numbers of tests done are increasing dramatically and would increase to an unsustainable point if we did not implement tightened testing criteria.

“We continue to ask the citizens of this province to continue adhering to the safety protocols and help us to flatten the curve and reduce the impact the third wave will have,” Van der Heever said.

At the same time, the City is reporting that its cemeteries experienced a slight increase in burials in the past week compared to the previous week, rising from 390 to 410.

Mayco member for community services Zahid Badroodien said: “Maitland cemetery had 108 burials, Klip Road 96 and Welmoed cemetery had 86.

“Our cemeteries are managing the demand currently. The City cannot, however, indicate with certainty how many of these were Covid-19 burials, as the cause of death is often either listed as natural or non-natural causes.”

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Cape Argus

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