People pictured in Durban’s CBD area, some without masks and others failing to social distance. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
People pictured in Durban’s CBD area, some without masks and others failing to social distance. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

'Mask up', warns KZN premier as province approaches its peak

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Aug 13, 2020

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal is on the verge of becoming the new Covid-19 epicentre, as it has recorded the highest number of new cases since the beginning of August.

The province has now overtaken the Western Cape in respect of the number of active cases.

This week, KZN surpassed the 100 000 mark in terms of the total number of Covid-19 cases and registered more than 1 500 deaths.

As of yesterday, the province recorded a total of 100 494 cases with 42 213 still active and 56 758 people having recovered. The death toll stood at 1 523.

Yesterday, Premier Sihle Zikalala sounded the alarm bells and warned everyone to strictly adhere to the lockdown regulations and limit social interaction, as the province braced itself for the peak of the virus.

He encouraged anyone who displayed symptoms of the virus to go to state facilities.

Zikalala cautioned that law-enforcement agencies would be out in full force to ensure regulations were being respected and the 10pm curfew was strictly adhered to.

During a virtual media briefing yesterday, Zikalala said the province had “worryingly” reported the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases in the country since the beginning of August “despite all our efforts to flatten the curve against the spread of the virus”.

The latest statistics reveal 1108 newly reported infections. This is more than double the number of newly reported infections in Gauteng which recorded 532.

“This has jolted us to sound a clarion call to all the people of this province that if there was time for them to play their part in the fight to curb the spread of the pandemic, it is now more than ever,” Zikalala said.

He said the provincial government also noted with serious concern that some people still continued to go out in public without wearing masks.

Not wearing a mask in public has been declared a criminal offence in terms of the regulations of the lockdown, he warned.

“We have noticed, that people are now lowering their guard and we would like to warn against doing so as we enter this phase of increasing numbers of infections in our province,” he said.

He said even more concerning was that many people were seen frequenting places of entertainment, car washes and shisa nyamas, where they gathered in groups.

“We are now right in the storm and on the verge of becoming the epicentre of this deadly pandemic. This means many more people are getting infected, and many more may die - if we don’t change our behaviour,” he said.

Although Zikalala said they were pleased that many people survived after being infected, it did not mean that those people could “sit on their laurels”.

“They need to continue following guidelines such as wearing masks in public at all times, washing their hands regularly with soap and water or sanitise their hands with alcohol- based hand sanitisers; and to maintain social distancing.

“We also appeal to public transport authorities to ensure that taxis, buses and trains are sanitised to protect passengers from being infected by this virus,” he said.

He also urged those who presented with symptoms to attend one of the state facilities in the province instead of self-isolating at home.

Zikalala said that elderly people and those with comorbidities were at a higher risk of being hit harder by the epidemic.

“It is much better and safer to be quarantined or isolated at a government facility than at home because should related complications set in, help will be close by.

“Government has worked hard to create thousands of beds for quarantine and isolation. There is still a lot of space available,” he said.

The Mercury

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