New regional restrictions under consideration as Covid-19 infections spike
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The Eastern and Western Capes have each shown spikes in Covid-19 infections over the past few weeks.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize visited the Eastern Cape this week, where he said the fight against Covid-19 was in the hands of the community and “where communities fail, the whole society fails”.
“A few days ago, I indicated that we are seeing the numbers beginning to breach the 3000-positive cases per day threshold which is concerning. It is an indication that we are moving far from where we were,” said Mkhize.
He added that daily figures in new cases were now driven by the Eastern Cape, which reflected between 50% to 55% of daily positive cases, followed by the Western Cape with daily reported increases that accounted for about 25%.
Mkhize said the government was toying with the idea of using differentiated approaches for specific hot spots.
Mkhize said any restrictions would be evidence-based and no official decisions were yet taken but the health department would make recommendations to the National Coronavirus Command Council.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced this week that the province was experiencing a second wave and confirmed that considerations were being made to implement local lockdown restrictions.
Further details are expected emerge in the new week.
But Professor Salim Abdool Karim, epidemiologist and co-chairperson of the ministerial advisory committee, said while the country was not experiencing a second wave he said the first wave began in a similar fashion.
“This virus requires super spreading events and that is what I fear occurred in the Eastern Cape. Early information suggests the outbreaks started in students’ residence and that alcohol establishments were flouting regulations.
“I fear that come December 16 when people are off from work, they will be going to their respective home provinces to celebrate. Inhibitions will be dropped and this could be exactly what the virus needs to explode again,” he said.
Karim said he had zero tolerance to for the endangerment of others.
“All restaurants, malls, bars, clubs and establishments of the like who are found to be breaking regulations must be shut down and fined. It is that simple. We have to protect each other.”
He added that with the resurgences in other parts of the country, hospitals should be gearing up to handle a potential influx.
Greg Swale, regional manager of the Life Healthcare, said they were expect an increase in transmissions and were preparing for the eventuality.
“Our KZN hospitals are currently at about one fifth of the number of patients we saw during the peak months. However, recent reports show an increase in KZN of about 30% new infections over the previous week. We are particularly concerned about the holiday season,” he said.
Craig Murphy, regional director coastal of the Netcare health group, said it was critical for members of the public to diligently adhere to Covid-19 precautions.
“Washing their hands regularly, adhering to social distancing, and always wearing a mask in public and when in the presence of others not only protected themselves but helps prevent the virus from spreading,” said Murphy.
He urged patients to seek medical treatment early and not only once their condition deteriorated.