Cape Town – Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Wednesday evening that the country is now experiencing a Covid-19 pandemic second wave.
He highlighted that four provinces are the key drivers of this new wave, according to criteria formulated by ’’our scientists and modelling teams'’.
The majority of new cases today are from the Western Cape (30%), followed by the Eastern Cape (24%), KwaZulu-Natal (23%) and Gauteng (17%). The Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West each accounted for 1% of the new cases, while the Northern Cape accounted for less than 1%.
’’It is important as well to highlight that today we have breached 6 000 in terms of new cases and the total new cases today identified is 6 709, thus giving us a total of 828 598 cumulative cases today,“ Mkhize said.
A total of 135 Covid-19-related deaths have been reported today: Eastern Cape 56, Free State 15, Gauteng 16, KwaZulu-Natal 7 and Western Cape 48. This brings the total to 22 574 deaths, with the number of recoveries now standing at 754 658.
A cumulative 5 690 263 tests have been completed, of which 38 200 have been conducted since the last report.
Mkhize also said there are ’’some seriously concerning issues I need to bring to the attention of the public’’:
- The positivity rate today is 18% – well above the ideal 10% that the MAC on Covid-19 recommends.
- You will notice from the seven-day moving average graph that the increases in rapid increase in KZN and Gauteng are exponential. This means that we should expect faster rising numbers with a higher peak than in the first wave.
- In the last two days, the age distribution of new cases showed a different pattern from the norm: the peak age in this period is in the 15-19 age group. This is believed to be due to a large number of parties involving young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions, for example, wearing of masks, social distancing and hand and surface sanitising. This inevitably leads to super-spreader events which spill over into the rest of the country as this age group is highly mobile and the majority of the carriers are asymptomatic.
’’If this trajectory continues, our healthcare system will be overwhelmed by the numbers. Hence part of the recommendations that are being tabled by provinces themselves is that large gatherings and parties must be urgently curtailed,’’ Mkhize said.
’’We would like to indicate that, having observed the trends in the past couple of weeks, we had already sent a letter to all MECs urging them to prepare their respective provinces for a second wave.
’’The key issues that we have raised are that the provinces need to ensure that testing turnaround times are as quick as possible to facilitate patient flow; assess bed capacity, including recalling field hospital beds; attend to staffing and equipment needs urgently; and to tighten up monitoring and evaluation and reporting to national department.’’
In a short statement on Wednesday, Lucky Fish Events — the organiser of Plett Rage and also the JBay Rage, JBay Rocks, Wanderbay NYE & Alcazar NYE — announced the cancellation of the event, which had been originally been postponed from December to January 2021.
“From what has recently unfolded during the period in which Ballito Rage took place in KZN (an event which is owned by a separate company), which took place from November 28 to December 3, it is clear that events of this nature are uncontrollable regardless of the Covid-19 preventive measures put in place,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, Britain’s medicine regulator has advised that people with a history of significant allergies do not get Pfizer-BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine after two people reported adverse reactions on the first day of rollout.
Starting with the elderly and front-line workers, Britain began mass vaccinating its population on Tuesday, part of a global drive that poses one of the biggest logistical challenges in peacetime history.
National Health Service medical director Stephen Powis said the advice had been changed after two NHS workers reported anaphylactoid reactions associated with receiving the vaccine.