KZN Premier Sihle Zikalaka
Picture: Supplied
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalaka Picture: Supplied

KZN sees a surge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks

By Lyse Comins Time of article published Jun 29, 2020

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal is experiencing a surge in new Covid-19 infections with people requiring ICU admissions.

However, the government said there was currently no shortage of hospital beds. This according to KZN Premier Sihle Zikalaka and Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu at a Covid-19 media briefing in Durban yesterday.

According to the statistics released by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize last night, KZN had 8433 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 3417 recoveries and 109 deaths.

He said eThekwini Municipality remained the epicentre of the pandemic and infections in schools had been expected as schools were a reflection of wider society.

“Events of the past few days, where we have seen a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 infections and deaths, bear testimony to what Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize has warned us about that we are riding towards a devastating and decimating Covid-19 storm,” said Zikalala.

“Even though KwaZulu-Natal continues to maintain a rising but stable curve, we cannot afford to be complacent - particularly while the situation is getting worse in other provinces.”

Zikalala said: “In the past week, 2756 people have tested positive; 28 sadly lost their lives; while 823 thankfully recovered,” he said.

“EThekwini, iLembe and uMgungundlovu have had a remarkable number of cases provincially. Approximately all the districts have had an upsurge of cases since the beginning of June. This week, uMgungundlovu District reported more cases than iLembe daily and now occupies the second spot in terms of the provincial infection rate. Ugu and Harry Gwala districts are recording cases from the Eastern Cape due to their close proximity to the province,” he said.

He said iLembe District was now the third-highest district in terms of infection rates after recording a slight decrease in the number of new cases over the past two weeks.

“EThekwini south sub-district has had the highest curve with 1493 cases, followed by the northern sub-district with 1223, while the western sub-district has registered the fewest cases at 554,” he said.

He said in uMgungundlovu, the “concerning sub-districts” were Msunduzi and uMngeni which had reported 646 and 57 cases respectively.

“Before June, the other five sub-districts were reporting zero cases on a daily basis. However, as of June even these sub-districts started to report new cases on a daily basis,” he said.

A total of 478 health-care workers in the public and private sector have tested positive for Covid-19 in the province.

Simelane-Zulu said her department was working hard to increase capacity of ICU and isolation units and quarantine beds. However, she said the department was currently not in “a crisis” in terms of ICU beds.

“Of course, we are beginning to see a surge in the number of patients in ICU and the number of patients ventilated. Going into ICU doesn’t mean you are going to be on ventilation,” she said.

She said the public sector currently had 200 ventilators, private sector health facilities had around 200 and the department was awaiting delivery of 100 ordered in March and had been promised a donation of a further 100.

Zikalala said rural areas were becoming increasingly vulnerable to the virus because of funerals and cultural engagements where there was less compliance with Covid-19 health protocols.

Zikalala said the cost of the lockdown to the provincial economy was estimated at R30 billion.

He welcomed the easing of regulations, which would see the further opening of businesses, especially those linked to tourism, a significant contributor to the economy.

“While noting the strain that this sector and its entire value chain is facing, we believe that this will go a long way in rebuilding this area of our economy.

“We are in regular discussion with the tourism sector partners to provide the necessary support as the sector gradually opens up,” he said.

“We are mitigating a challenging environment.

“On one hand you have got businesses collapsing and people losing jobs and on the other hand you have got people losing their lives.”

The Mercury

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