Mkhize sticks to Western Cape Covid-19 spike claims amid dispute

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 23, 2020


Cape Town – Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has stuck to his guns that the Western Cape recorded a 42% spike in Covid-19 infections, despite Premier Alan Winde disputing this.

Mkhize said a detailed outbreak response was being compiled, after he broke the news on Wednesday night when he tweeted the Western Cape had experienced a “significant spike”.

MKhize said yesterday the province had recorded a 42% increase, with the Western Cape Health Department having identified specific Covid-19 clusters responsible for the increase in cases.

“In the last seven days there was a marked increase in the number of new cases in the Western Cape: the province recorded a 42% increase in new infections.

“It is advised that each of these clusters (have) been investigated. A detailed outbreak response is being mounted,” Mkhize tweeted.

However, Winde said the Department of Health’s “own definition of a resurgence is an increase of more than 20% in new cases over a seven-day period”.

He said the Western Cape had not recorded such an increase in the past seven days.

“The Western Cape government’s seven-day ‘rolling average’ of new cases indicates 1 757 new cases recorded in the week to October 19 versus 1 546 the previous week. This represents an increase of 13.65% in new cases in the seven-day period,” said Winde.

By yesterday, the Western Cape had 3 247 active Covid-19 infections, with a total of 114 534 confirmed cases and 106 979 recoveries. Winde said initial cases linked to the cluster had recovered and the rate in that area had declined.

“Any increase is a worry for us, and it has our government on full alert and responding. It is important to also note that many of the initial cases linked to the cluster have now recovered and the rate of new infections in the area is starting to decline.

“There is currently a lot of variability of the caseload week on week, so we will have a much clearer picture of what is happening in the coming weeks.

“We will continue to provide our data to the National Department of Health, as we do weekly, and we always keep them informed of all changes,” he said.

Mkhize’s office did not respond to questions by deadline.

Outlining the path to recovery for the Western Cape, Winde said they would consider stricter times for the sale of alcohol, even after the expiry of the national State of Disaster regulations.

“We will confront the Western Cape’s dangerous relationship with alcohol through smart interventions. We will therefore be making a number of amendments to the Western Cape Liquor Act.

“As part of these amendments, ‘per-unit-of-alcohol’ pricing, which makes it more expensive to buy alcoholic beverages with a higher alcohol percentage, is being seriously considered because evidence suggests it can be effective in preventing binge drinking,” he said.

South Africa, meanwhile, had shown an average 2% increase in new Covid-19 cases, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Africa CDC director Dr John Nkengasong said: “As of 9am Eastern Africa Time today (Thursday), the number of cases globally has risen to over 40 million and more than one million deaths.”

He said the continent accounted for more than 1.6 million cases, this translating to 4.1% of the cases reported globally, with over 1.3million recoveries and over 40 000 deaths. In the last four weeks, South Africa showed an average increase of 2%, he said.

In terms of vaccine trials, he said Pfizer and BioNTech had started participant enrolment in a phase 3 clinical trial of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate in South Africa. In addition, Astrazeneca had also resumed Covid-19 vaccine phase 3 trials in South Africa.

Cape Times

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