President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the country on the state of Covid-19 affairs on Thursday evening at 8pm.
The address, which has been anticipated for some time, is speculated to be related to the sharp increase in Covid-19 infections in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
These provinces have been declared hotspots, notably Nelson Mandela Bay and the Sarah Baartman district in the Eastern Cape, and along the Garden Route in the Western Cape.
It is expected that in some areas, new interventions will include a stricter curfew and, potentially, a limitation on alcohol trading hours.
In a statement on Thursday, the Presidency said Ramaphosa’s address follows a “special sitting of Cabinet that considered recommendations of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) meeting”.
Footage courtesy of SABC:
On Wednesday evening, 4173 new Covid-19 cases were reported. In the Eastern Cape, there are now a total of 130,430 cases, making up 16.4% of the country’s Covid-19 cases. The Western Cape accounts for 16.9% of the country’s total cases, with 134,233 cases currently in the province.
#COVID19 Statistics in SA as at 02 December.
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65 more deaths were also reported on Wednesday, four of which took place in the Eastern Cape, bringing the total death toll in the province to 4678.
In the Western Cape, 4701 have died due to Covid-19.
‘Science and common sense’
During Western Cape Premier Alan Winde’s 30th digital conference since the pandemic hit on Thursday morning, he said that Covid-19 cases were still steadily rising. To keep tabs on the latest development, regular consultations were being had with the Presidential Coordinating Council, law enforcement and the health department.
Winde confirmed that a hard lockdown was not yet on the cards for the province, opting instead to launch a series of awareness programmes, and trying to push for harsher consequences for individuals and establishments that failed to follow Covid-19 protocols.
The Western Cape’s response, Winde said, must be based on science and common sense.
Dr Keith Cloete, head of the Western Cape health department, said in the conference that the test positivity rate for the province was at 20% – up 4% from just last week. He said the case numbers were beginning to match those observed during the third week of May, when the country had its first resurgence.
Cases have also grown to just under 50%, and each case currently affects approximately 1.4 other cases.
The healthcare system is bracing for an expected increase in deaths over the next few weeks, but Cloete said the system was still within its capacity for testing for new cases.
Law enforcement visibility would be increased in hotspot areas, from traffic police to beach monitors and lifeguards, visitors and residents would be closely monitored, and could face penalties should they fail to adhere to regulations.
“In the next 30 days, we need to make sure we all play our part. If we follow this, it’s not just life as normal, but the new normal. We must all play our part to flatten the curve, have the summer season, and keep the economy open,” Cloete said.
The Garden Route’s case load has increased by 29%, with nearly 400 new cases being reported in a day.
In light of the Garden Route’s newfound hotspot status, Winde said he would meet with mayors and MECs on Friday, to discuss a way forward.
Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said residents were not only looking out for themselves and their loved ones by following protocols but that they were also ensuring the wellbeing of healthcare workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.
One health worker contracting Covid-19 placed significant strain on colleagues and their loved ones. The mental toll the pandemic had taken on frontline workers has also been significant, she added.
This, in turn, took a toll on other hospital services that were currently overwhelmed due to Covid-19, notably road accident victims, maternal and neonatal treatment, and HIV/Aids and tuberculosis initiatives.
“Health is everybody’s business. Don’t forget, health workers are the pillars that strengthen the system. Without them, you can have as many beds as you want, but if they have to be quarantined or isolated, their families are affected, and it maens there won’t be an accommodating health system. Mask up, it’s in your hands.”
“We must learn to live with Covid-19 until there’s a vaccine,” Cloete said.