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Western Cape says it now expects more new cases of Covid-19 than at the peak of the third wave

Head Of Health in the Department at Western Cape Government Keith Cloete gave a summary of evidence collected on the Omicron variant to date and said there was now clear evidence that re-infections may occur with Omicron.. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Head Of Health in the Department at Western Cape Government Keith Cloete gave a summary of evidence collected on the Omicron variant to date and said there was now clear evidence that re-infections may occur with Omicron.. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 17, 2021

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Cape Town - Head of provincial health Dr Keith Cloete said the Western Cape’s new cases of Covid 19 were mirroring short-term predictions from the South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium (SACMC), and more cases were expected than at the peak of the third wave.

“The prediction from the SACMC for this week was 2 400 per day on the seven-day moving average, which is the number of daily confirmed new cases. By the end of this week, we expect to be at about 2500 cases per day.

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He said the SACMC’s prediction for next week is that the province will get up to 3770 cases per day.

During the regular provincial health digicon on Wednesday, Cloete gave a summary of evidence collected on the Omicron variant to date and said there was now clear evidence that re-infections may occur with Omicron.

He said in an unvaccinated person with no previous infection, there was no evidence to date that Omicron is less severe than previous variants.

“We are still seeing some very sick patients. We are seeing an increase in hospitalisations but are coping with the demand.

“While hospital admissions are currently still at relatively low levels, they are now showing signs of an early increase with 65 new admissions per day, while deaths remain low at around one death per day,” he said.

However, he said there was a widening gap between cases and admissions which started in the third wave but increased in the fourth wave, and that this is most likely due to increasing immunity from vaccination and prior infection.

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He said, overall, there was a 212% week-on-week increase in cases in the Metro where the proportion of positive Covid-19 tests had increased to an average of 38% and that, based on a seven-day moving average, Covid-19 hospital admissions stood at 555 across the province. Premier Alan Winde said:

“We are deep into the fourth wave already, with an average of about 2000 cases a day.

“We have evidence that it is the younger citizens who are being affected and ending up in our hospital systems, and this shows that the vaccine is working for those who are 60 and over and that Omicron is seeking out those who are not as well protected,” he said.

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Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said that the recently lifted travel bans had also affected the delivery of reagents used in Covid-19 antibody testing.

“It was not just about the economy. Cargo aircraft that had been bringing the reagents had also stopped flying. Colleagues in academia and scientists told me that had the travel bans continued, it would have had quite a negative impact on the testing.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has urged stronger compliance with Covid-19 prevention and treatment protocols during the festive season.

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Phaahla spoke as the National Coronavirus Command Council said it would retain the lockdown restrictions at adjusted level 1.

“We will closely monitor the rising infections, hospitalisations, mortality and recovery rates which are largely driven by the Omicron variant, which is contributing to the fourth wave in the country,” Phaahla said.

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