Tshwane residents urged to accept reality of Covid-19 as death toll rises
Pretoria - The average number of deaths resulting from Covid-19 in the City of Tshwane has jumped from four a day to 21 a day since the start of the Christmas week.
This is the reality, according to Tshwane Health MMC Sakkie du Plooy, who expects that the city – now a national hotspot – has not yet reached the peak of the second wave.
He spoke to the Pretoria News yesterday as President Cyril Ramaphosa called an urgent meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to discuss the rising virus infection rate and if adjusted level three lockdown is doing enough to slow it.
Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared Tshwane one of the virus hotspots in the country. This week, Gauteng Premier David Makhura also expressed his concern while at a roadblock on the N1.
The hardest hit region of Tshwane was the northern area including Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa and Mabopane, with 319 new cases on Tuesday.
Du Plooy said he believed many of the cases were the result of illegal gatherings which must be condemned. He lamented the level of complacency some people displayed towards the coronavirus.
“The attitude of people is one of our major enemies. People still have so many theories, like the one that says 'it is just another flu'.
“They deny reality. We fear for the next two weeks because a lot of people are coming back to Gauteng from their respective provinces," he said.
However, despite the challenges, Du Plooy said city authorities had a plan. While the metro police have increased their policing of individuals and groups to ensure compliance, there was a personal responsibility too.
The City has at least 66 environmental health practitioners, who were hard at work doing contact tracing. "If you are tested positive, they will ask you: who have you been in contact with? They will test all people who have been in contact with you to stop the mass spreading."
He said many people concerned about their Covid-19 status queued outside city clinics – such as the Florence Ribeiro clinic at Sammy Marks – asking to be tested.
Clinics such as that did screening first and did not necessarily test everyone unless they had symptoms. There is also a mobile clinic which stops at shopping centres to do screening and check compliance.
Du Plooy also applauded the collaboration between the provincial government and the metro.
"We have 24 of the 66 clinics managed by us in Tshwane. Others are managed by the province. The people we work with in the province have the same vision as us, which is to assist the people and fight the pandemic," he said.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura is worried of an increase in Covid-19 infections with the influx of people from other provinces and neighbouring countries.
On Tuesday, Makhura, Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko and Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi joined law enforcement officers and health workers at a roadblock at the Carousel Toll Plaza.
Makhura said the provincial government was “entering a particularly worrying period.” Gauteng, he said, was at the beginning of the second wave with hospital admissions rising and an expected spike in cases in the weeks ahead.
He urged compliance with the preventative measures in place, and for people not to travel unnecessarily.
Gauteng, with 27% of the cases nationally, is among the four provinces which had been identified as the key drivers of the second wave of infections.
South Africa had an additional 14 410 confirmed cases on January 5, bringing the cumulative total to 1.13 million, with an additional 513 deaths bringing the total number of lives lost due to Covid-19 to 30 524.
There is special concern about the new strain of the coronavirus found in South Africa, which is proving to be more transmittable, and whether the vaccines produced will be fully effective against it.
Ramaphosa is widely expected to address the nation again early next week, before the latest lockdown period ends and schools are due to reopen.