There are 393 positive cases of Covid-19 in the Western Cape, with an increase to 22 people in hospital and seven receiving intensive care, Premier Alan Winde said on Thursday.
“We have got enough hospital beds, enough ICU beds and enough quarantine facilities right now,” said Winde. “But we’ve got to be preparing for what the impact is going to be in a week, two weeks, and two months’ time?”
Winde held a digital press conference on Facebook with community safety MEC Albert Fritz, the province’s head of health Dr Keith Cloete and Dr Kerrin Begg, of the Colleges of Medicine of SA.
They took questions from the media via a pre-arranged WhatsApp group.
Winde said, of the 393 cases in the province, 321 are in the City of Cape Town.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize will visit the province for an extended provincial cabinet meeting on Friday, and then go on site visits.
Winde said the coronavirus crisis had brought all spheres of government together, with the provincial government and national government communicating with each other every day and working together through a joint operational centre.
Cloete, who took over as head of health on Wednesday, said that 164 of the 393 cases are considered to be locally transmitted.
Two cases are in Khayelitsha, nine in the Klipfontein area, and seven in Mitchells Plain.
Although these numbers are low, health officials are worried about community transmission.
It emphasises the importance that only essential services workers are allowed out. When other people go out, it must only be for essential provisions, like food, medicine and social grants.
It has become a global experience that the coronavirus crisis is felt most acutely when more people are admitted to ICU and need respiratory assistance, hence the call for people to stay at home and keep their distance from each other. In this way, ICUs are not overwhelmed.
There are 20 people in isolation facilities in the province, and more are being sought.
Cloete explained the discrepancy between the numbers the Western Cape is releasing and the numbers the national Department of Health is releasing.
The Western Cape gets it results directly from two public and four private laboratories. The figures are correct, but there is a lag until they are added to national figures via the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
The department is also enrolling retired doctors and nurses willing to work over the few months because as many health workers as possible are needed.
Community healthcare workers will begin assisting with community screening programmes to be launched on Monday in areas where there has been local transmission, and further details will be released soon. They will be clearly identified, and police and councillors will assist in making sure the public understand who a legitimate screener is.
Winde urged people to reserve N95 medical masks for health workers, but added that there is a protective role for cloth masks, if used correctly.
Begg said a cloth mask must be washed and ironed before use and should never be used as a replacement for all of the other golden rules: vigorous washing of hands with soap and water; keep a distance of two arms lengths away from each other; and stay at home if ill.
Cloth masks should only be used when shopping, when home infrastructure makes self-isolation difficult, when stopping and talking to members of the public, and for people collecting rubbish.
The “obvious inside” should touch the face, and you should only touch the strings, not the face.
“So please be aware do not touch your face,” she said.
It must be taken off properly without touching the face.
Instructions on how to make one will be placed on the Western Cape government’s website.
She stressed that it is not a protection against Covid-19.
Fritz said the Western Cape government had asked the provincial liquor authority to make sure that anybody violating the lockdown liquor sales ban be given the full R100,000 fine, and their stock confiscated.
He also wanted to recruit individual neighbourhood watch members to protect schools, particularly those around shebeens, because they were being vandalised during the lockdown.
Fritz was very concerned about complaints against the police enforcing the lockdown, and seven law enforcement officers have been suspended following complaints about their conduct.
Winde said the province’s lawyers and the SA Police Service’s lawyers agreed that the disaster regulations explicitly banned alcohol sales, but were not explicit about cigarettes.
As such, the province believed cigarettes could be bought during an outing to buy essential goods like bread and milk.
The province also wanted clarity on whether school supplies could be bought, especially because pupils were working online and needed stationery, dongles and other equipment.
The province was also going to apply for an exemption to allow for some childcare facilities to be opened for the children of essential services workers, especially single mothers.
- If you have flu-like symptoms in the Western Cape, you can call 021 928 4102 or the national hotline number 0800 029 999.