The “superspreader” Covid-19 event in Cape Town’s southern suburbs recently saw 113 people test positive for coronavirus.
Of those, only seven active cases were left by Thursday, according to the Western Cape government.
The sudden new cluster in the southern suburbs was detected by general practitioners, who plugged into the Covid-19 monitoring and response network.
Many of the people identified in the “superspreader” incident had attended an event at the Tin Roof bar, or were contacts of people who had been there.
The owner of the bar told News24 it followed all Covid-19 protocols, and that other private parties were also taking place. The final report on investigations into that outbreak was not ready yet.
In a briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said 10 establishments were investigated regarding this cluster for compliance with Covid-19 regulations and liquor laws.
Head of the Western Cape Department of Health Dr Keith Cloete said there has been an overall increase in cases in the province over the last three weeks after the province’s decline in infections until the end of September.
However, the province’s view is that it is a resurgence of the first wave, and not an established second wave.
The seven-day average showed there was an 11% increase in new infections, up from 6% at the end of September.
There had been an outbreak in the Otto Du Plessis Hospital in the Overberg, with 10 nurses, two cleaners and one administrative unit staffer infected. The hospital was cleared and ambulances were diverted.
There were also four new cases in Gansbaai, and an increase in Theewaterskloof is being monitored.
On the Garden Route, there was a sharp increase again, with new cases in Thembalethu and George, and in Stellenbosch there were 20 cases, but no cluster was identified along the Winelands.
In the Swartland, two areas, with four cases each, are being watched.
He said the overall figures for new cases in the southern suburbs have now come down. He added that everybody must wear their mask, social distance and wash their hands in the lead up to the festive season.
A total of 561 Covid-19 patients are being treated in all hospitals in the province, with 102 people receiving intensive or high care.
The Brackengate Hospital of Hope has 13 patients, out of a total of 600 admissions to date, and is being kept open in case more beds are needed. The Sonstraal Covid-19 facility in Paarl has no Covid-19 patients and it might be turned into a tuberculosis treatment centre.
Ten bodies are being processed in the mass deaths facility for Covid-19 deaths.
In the last three weeks, cases have only increased in specific sub-districts, with the southern and western suburbs of Cape Town mostly responsible for the increase in new cases.
There were other new clusters reported in Parklands, Dunoon, Milnerton, Sea Point, the city centre, Woodstock, Gardens and Fresnaye, but monitoring systems that are in place have managed it and the numbers are coming down. There was a small outbreak in Gugulethu, which was brought under control.
The rural areas peaked at different times, but a community transmission outbreak was detected in Beaufort West via screening at a school. The Beaufort West cluster was not directly linked to the school, but the school protocols had helped detect and manage it.
During the peak in the province, coronavirus cases were mainly in the age group 30 to 50, but recent outbreaks in the southern and western regions of Cape Town were in the younger age groups of 15 to 19 and 20 to 29, with most in the 15 to 25 age group.
‘Avoid superspreader events’
Cloete said these were in the “more affluent” suburbs and in his report, private gyms and boarding schools were flagged as possible areas of concern.
Cloete urged caution during sporting events and other gatherings.
“Avoid superspreader events,” he added.
He said the province did not regard the new infections as a second wave, but as the “tail end” of the first wave.
Cloete explained that the National Department of Health and the Western Cape Department of Health recorded positive cases at different times, based on when the results were received; when the diagnosis was made; or, if a case should actually be recorded for a different province. He said this sometimes caused a difference between the figures of the two departments.
He said although there was a disparity in the way the two report cases, the trend for the positivity rates was the same.
“It is just that it’s different timing and [a] slight difference in what we do but it is the same trends that we are observing during this period,” Cloete said.
‘We all know what to do’
Through the City of Cape Town and the SA Medical Research Council, the province has also added waste water sampling to its early warning systems to look for possible new infection sites.
The sampling detects virus shedding at 10 plants, and these have already shown an increase in levels of virus shedding. A total of 24 plants in the province will eventually be sampled and used for early warning of possible new outbreaks.
Cloete said the latest figures showed that a “disproportionate” number of positive confirmations of new infections was coming mainly from private testing.
Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said the reintegration of health services was continuing, to make up for the decline in ongoing treatment of tuberculosis, HIV/Aids, mental health, immunisation and antenatal services.
Winde called on people in the province to focus on making it an “outlier” that does not see a second wave of Covid-19, and to prevent another lockdown, even though there will be “flare ups”.
“We all know what to do,” he said, adding that there should be collective responsibility by everybody regarding compliance, in a non-aggressive manner.