People walking past a mural of kids playing with their face masks at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)
People walking past a mural of kids playing with their face masks at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Who or what is to blame for nearly 190 000 new infections and 4600+ deaths in SA?

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Jan 13, 2021

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HUMAN behaviour and the new Covid-19 variant could be behind the reason South Africa recorded nearly 190 000 new Covid-19 infections and more than 4 600 deaths between January 1, 2021 and January 11, 2021.

President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed the figures during the country’s “family meeting” on Monday.

The figures were shocking mainly because during the first wave, it took the country four months, since the first Covid-19 case which was recorded in March, to reach nearly 190 000 Covid-19 infections.

On July 4, 2020, the National Health Department announced 187 977 positive Covid-19 cases and 196 750 positive cases the next day.

The Health Department also announced that the country had reached 4 669 deaths on July 16, 2020 and 4 804 deaths on July 17.

The president also said KwaZulu-Natal had the highest average number of cases over the last seven days, followed by the Western Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Moreover, new infections in KZN and the Western Cape had grown fast and had exceeded the peak during the first wave.

On January 1, 2021, KZN had 5 311 new positive cases and stood at 4 528 deaths. On Monday, January 11, 2021, the province had 4 450 new positive cases and deaths stood at 5 279. Those figures translate to 9 761 new positive cases and 751 more deaths.

Two professors believe the statistics delivered by the president on Monday evening were as a result of lax human behaviour and the new Covid-19 variant.

“People were in a very festive mood and a lot of the precautions were not being abided by. Another contributing factor is the new variant virus which is also contributing to the spread,” said Professor Barry Schoub.

He said all social gatherings contributed, whether funerals, parties or weddings, people congregating together, particularly when there is alcohol because inhibitions usually get chucked out. Also funerals because they are very emotional.

“One of the biggest risks are social gatherings, all social gatherings including funerals. But funerals seem to be a particular problem because people don't stick to the regulations,” said Schoub.

Another professor who prefers to work under the radar said what could be driving the surge of cases were people behaving irresponsibly but he could not be sure. They suspect that it could also be because of the new variant playing a role. He added that it could also be because people were not practising adequate non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“It’s the wrong time of the year that we are in. We’re in a time of the year where humans generally become more social than they should and we’ve had many more funerals,” the professor said.

He said human behaviour at this time of the year is very difficult to sustain, people had never been through a lockdown before.

“An increase in deaths, we must remember that our hospitals are full. It’s very difficult to provide proper care for patients who need higher level care because patients have blocked up those beds. Once you get someone on a ventilator, he’s going to occupy that bed for several days, which means you can’t have access to that bed unless you have a positive or negative outcome,” he said.

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