Covid-19 in Western Cape: Concern as over 900 people hospitalised, cases soar
Cape Town – Premier Alan Winde has warned the people of the Western Cape about the resurgence of the coronavirus after active cases increased by more than 20% week-on-week.
Community transmissions of the Covid-19 virus are also on the increase in the Garden Route and Cape Metro regions, said Winde.
He said the provincial government was concerned about the increased number of infections which were leading to an increase in hospitalisations in the province due to the virus.
In September, the province had under 500 people hospitalised for Covid-19, but as of Wednesday night, the number of people in hospital due to Covid-19 had almost doubled to 904, with 431 people in public hospitals, while another 473 had been hospitalised in the private sector.
“In the last 24-hour reporting period alone, the number of people being hospitalised for Covid-19 increased by a staggering 54 people,” said Winde.
He explained the province was now officially experiencing a Covid-19 resurgence and said: “A resurgence is when the number of active cases increase, week-on-week, by more than 20%. Over the last week alone, the province has witnessed a 52.1% jump in new cases, with an established pattern over time.
“There is also now established community transmission of the virus again in this province, which means that it is spreading within communities at a faster rate. This growth is primarily driven by two districts in the Western Cape: the Garden Route and the Cape Metro.
“Last week, we issued a hotspot alert for the Garden Route, following an alarming growth of cases in the area. This surge has continued to gain momentum and there are now more active cases in George and Knysna sub-districts than at any point in the pandemic to date.
“The City of Cape Town is following a similar trajectory to this region and looks to be about 10-14 days behind. We are therefore also issuing a hotspot alert for the (Cape) Metro. It is important to highlight that the growth in cases in the City is being recorded in every sub-district and is not being driven by any one area,” said Winde.
He said they were also using waste-water treatment testing to identify the existence of Covid-19.
In July, IOL reported that scientists in South Africa were now able to track the virus by using wastewater to detect virus hotspots.
This came after a group of scientists working at the GreenHill Laboratories in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal found that by extracting water samples from the wastewater treatment system, they could determine where the hotspots are and, by so doing, focus public health officials towards focus intervention strategies in specific areas for the virus.
The lab was the first on the continent to detect Covid-19 RNA in sewage as part of their commercial virus risk forensic service. The project was spearheaded by Professor Anthony Turton of the University of the Free State, a specialist in water resource management, and Amanzi-4-All, coordinated by Neil Madgwick of Praecautio, with sampling undertaken by Kevin Lindsay of Instru-Serve, along with principal molecular biologist, Dr Cara-Lesley Bartlett.
Meanwhile, Winde said they were concerned about the Cape Winelands, that was also starting to record a number of new Covid-19 cases.
“The Overberg District, Central Karoo District and West Coast District are being closely monitored given their proximity to these hotspots. This established Covid-19 resurgence in the Western Cape is also reflected in the proportion of positive tests, which has now grown to 16%. This is comparable to the test positivity rate experienced in the Western Cape in early May 2020. My biggest concern is for our health platform, which is under growing pressure. We need to ensure that every person gets healthcare when they need it,” said Winde.
He pleaded to the public to not lose sight of the fact the coronavirus was still a threat and it would decimate jobs and livelihoods if the province, or the country, were forced to go into another strict lockdown.
“We also cannot afford a lockdown again, as is being witnessed in many European countries right now. Our economy simply cannot afford it.
“A lockdown would kill jobs and cause our humanitarian disaster to worsen. This will also cost lives in the future. There is therefore only one option available to us all.
“We have to bring the situation under control through our own actions. We have to do everything possible to ensure that we do not get infected by Covid-19 and that we do not spread Covid-19. The virus is not gone but will be with us over the holidays and beyond,” he said.
People have been urged to wear masks, wash or sanitise hands, avoid crowds and confined spaces, avoid hosting and indoor gatherings and to treat everyone as if they were Covid-19 positive.