Western Cape Premier Alan Winde Picture: Supplied
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde Picture: Supplied

Winde worried over continued restriction of certain 'essential services' under Level 4

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Apr 24, 2020

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Cape Town – Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa's new risk-aligned strategy to the lockdown, which will see the country move to slightly more relaxed restrictions from May 1.

Winde said on Friday he is pleased Ramaphosa has called for submissions on the proposed levels prior to them being finalised, and "will certainly be embracing this opportunity".

With the country shifting to Level 4 from next Friday, which allows some activity to resume "subject to extreme precautions required to limit community transmission and outbreaks", Winde is concerned over the continued restriction of some services "previously lobbied to be considered as essential".

He used the sale of books and stationery as an example, "which are not clearly defined for sale under this stage of lockdown". 

"If schools are not yet allowed to reopen, stationery and books are essential tools which will help parents ensure that their children are able to continue to learn and read during this period."

With six new Covid-19 related deaths and an increase of 200 infections recorded on Thursday, Winde said: "I understand that our residents are worried as they see the number of new laboratory confirmed Covid-19 cases grow rapidly in the Western Cape, but this is a natural result of our more rigorous testing approach. 

"Our strategy is to do screening and testing even more rigorously. This is the best way to contain the virus and to flatten the curve."

In his full statement, Winde said: "We welcome this (risk-adjusted) approach, which balances the need to remain cautious to prevent new infections, with the need to re-open the economy so that people can start to return to work. 

"We await further details from the national government on the details of the restrictions that will be enforced per level. As we have seen during the present lockdown, clear directives are critical to ensure public and business compliance. 

"Without pre-empting this detail, it does appear that level four continues to restrict some services which we have previously lobbied to be considered as essential. 

"An example of this is the sale of books and stationery, which are not clearly defined for sale under this stage of lockdown. 

"If schools are not yet allowed to reopen, stationery and books are essential tools which will help parents ensure that their children are able to continue to learn and read during this period. 

"In this respect, we will working urgently with various businesses and industries, as well as our own workstreams, to seek their input on the proposed levels, prior to submitting a consolidated submission to the Presidency and COGTA. 

"For our part, we will work with the national government to ensure that once implemented, the new approach is effective in stopping the spread while still allowing for necessary economic activity to resume.  

"While it may be tempting to see these relaxed regulations as a lifting of the lockdown, we call on all residents to continue to abide by the rules, which are in place to ensure that we are able to limit the spread. The new regulations place additional responsibility on our citizens to stop the spread. 

"The new phased lockdown approach is based on infection data, and we will only be able to move down in levels, towards the new normal, when and where infection data is showing stabilisation in the number of new infections.

"That is why it is crucial that across South Africa, we implement a rigorous screening an testing regime. In the Western Cape, we have done so. We therefore expect the number of laboratory confirmed Covid-19 cases to climb in our province. 

"Since the start of April, our community screening teams have reached over 150 000 people in communities across the province.

"Over the past week, nearly 9 000 tests have been conducted in the province as part of our active case finding approach to make sure that we identify every person who might have been infected with Covid-19 as quickly as possible.

"We have embraced testing because if we know someone is Covid-19 positive, we can ensure that they isolate, and we can stop the spread the virus to others.

"We can also follow up with their contacts immediately and start the process all over again. It also means that we can care for those who might be very sick because of the virus.

"Our screening and testing teams are deployed based on data which actively identifies and follows the “bush fires” – the pockets of infections within communities.

"We identify these pockets whenever we confirm a Covid-19 case, and our rigorous contact tracing teams track their previous movements and contacts.

"Many of these referred tests were reported in the last 24 hours, bringing up our total of new infections considerably.

"We are going to face a very challenging time in the weeks and months to come. The lockdown has helped, but it has not stopped the virus. The peak is still to come, and many people will be infected by Covid-19.

"That is why it is so important that every single one of us continue to play our part to flatten the curve. If we do this, we can prevent our health system from being overwhelmed, and we can save many lives."

"We have to do this by continuing with what we have learnt already:  we must always follow good hygiene practises and wear a cloth mask when in public at all times. 

"We must stay home and keep a distance from others. If we are sick, we must not leave our house: and first call our hotline to find out what to do next.

"We must work harder now than ever before. I know we can stop the spread, if we all work together in this way."

Cape Times

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