Cape Town - The Western Cape has recorded 393 positively confirmed coronavirus cases to date, with the majority of cases - 321 - in the Cape Town metro, Premier Alan Winde said. As of 00:01 on April 1 the total number of active cases in the province was at 370.
While infections have grown more slowly here than elsewhere, Winde said they are seeing trends which are cause for concern.
"Last Sunday, we announced our first cases in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain. We are also seeing an increase in the number of local transmissions and increasing admissions to hospital.
"As of this morning, 20 people in the Western Cape had been admitted to hospital, with seven in intensive care facilities. While these numbers are manageable now, every single resident needs to join our fight against the coronavirus so that we can save lives, particularly of those who are most vulnerable to this infection- the elderly, and those with underlying health problems who will be worst affected," Winde said.
"We all need to adhere to the rules of the lockdown, which means staying home. When we do leave our homes for necessities only, we must keep our distance, wash our hands, and avoid physical contact with others. If we are sick with flu-like symptoms, then we must stay home and call the coronavirus hotline on 0800 029 999 for advice. When we cough or sneeze, we do this into our arm or into a tissue which can be thrown away.
"We understand that this lockdown is not easy and it has resulted in many people feeling afraid or confused. We are all in this together, and our strength of unity will get us through," he said.
"For our part, the Western Cape Government is currently looking at a number of sites and facilities across the province that we will be able to bring online as temporary healthcare facilities and quarantine and isolation sites.
"We are at an advanced stage in this process, and once we have completed all of the contractual matters, we will be making a further announcement," the premier said.
The Western Cape Cabinet met with Western Cape police commissioner, Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata, and her team on Wednesday where we received a briefing on their operations across the province.
The police also form part of the province's daily reporting meetings.
"We continue to work with police to get clarity on the implementation of the regulations and the announcement of new regulations such as those pertaining to travel for funerals announced earlier today.
"The province remains concerned about reports of brutality by police, law enforcement and the SANDF seen around the country. We raised this concern with them yesterday and will continue to monitor this situation closely," Winde said.
Residents who have experienced incidents of brutality are urged to report these (the appropriate numbers are listed below).
Winde said that SAPS has indicated that certain categories of crime have shown a decrease,however, "we have also seen criminal elements taking advantage of the lockdown- with an increase in certain other types of crime and school vandalism incidents".
"We are also concerned that the lockdown could result in increased incidents of domestic abuse, which are not being reported as a result of the regulations being in place. Those who are experiencing violence are reminded that they are able to report abuse to the police, or make use of the GBV reporting line services offered by the Department of Social Development. They can call the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre on 0800 428 428."
Services to victims of crime and violence are deemed essential and thus departmental and civil society organisations will continue to provide them, including shelter and psychosocial support.
The Department’s local offices remain open, and social workers are available to assist with emergency statutory services including victim empowerment, aiding children at high risk, child justice and probation services, services to persons with disabilities as well as older persons at high risk. Our hotline is also operational on 0800 220 250.
Transport and logistics:
Public transport has been a challenge during the first week of lockdown, and Wide said they are monitoring the impact of the new regulations for taxis announced on Wenesday.
The province's transport and logistics workstream has distributed 8520 litres of sanitizer to the taxi industry and will be distributing a further supply to municipalities in the province.
A dedicated bus route to various hospitals has also been implemented as from today in order to ensure that healthcare workers are able to get to work safely and on time.
Masks and personal protective equipment:
There has been much debate globally about whether it is recommended to make use of a facemask during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A policy guideline developed by the Department of Health, for sectors other than Health, indicates that as the epidemic unfolds, the wider use of masks is indicated even for people who are not ill, especially if they move around in the public.
The Western Cape Department of Health has worked together with leading independent scientists in South Africa, Professor Shaheen Mehtar and Dr Kerrin Begg of the College of Public Health Medicine Guidance task team, to provide clear advice for Western Cape residents on the appropriate and safe usage of masks – and who should use what kind of masks where and when.
The Golden Rules of Good Hygiene
Firstly, a mask is not a solve-all solution in the fight against Covid-19 and should never be used as a replacement for basic good hygiene considerations.
The most important thing every resident should do is:
- Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
- Do not touch your face with unwashed hands
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the corner of your arm, and safely throw away the tissue
- Keep a distance of 1,5m from others
- If you are ill, stay at home, and if needs be call a medical facility to arrange for clinical assessment
- This should be adhered to at all times, regardless of whether you have a mask or not.
Wearing a mask does not make you safe from Covid-19 and members of the public must at all times follow these basic hygiene golden rules. They remain our most effective tool for the public to fight the spread of this virus.