While the province over the past weeks has shown a downward trend in Covid-19 infections, the provincial command council said they would not encourage immediate easing of lockdown levels.
On Friday, the Gauteng command council delivered several reports from the state of Covid-19 infections, the vaccine roll-out plans and corruption allegations.
Chair of Premier David Makhura’s Covid-19 advisory council Dr Mary Kawong, said although the province had experienced a reduction in Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks, cases were still relatively high.
Kawong said the enforcement of adjusted level 3 in late December, was one of the reasons behind the downward trajectory in the province.
Although there was also a decrease in several Covid-19 related deaths this past week, Kawong said there were probably more people that died because of Covid-19 but never tested. She said this was because during high infections a lot of people were reported to have died of natural causes.
“There were 20,764 natural excess deaths since 3 May 2020, Gauteng accounted for 16.5% of all natural excess deaths. In the week of 17-23 January, natural excess deaths were at 1 854. This was a reduction from 2 018 detailed a week before,” she said.
“There might have been people who died of Covid-19 but did not get any care because hospitals were clogged up. They are either Covid-19 deaths or happened as a consequence of Covid-19 pandemic.”
Kawong said they would not advise easing of regulations yet, due to cases and deaths still relatively high.
“As much as this is good news, the second wave is not over yet. Because of a high number in excess deaths, which we will monitor. We all need to continue to be cautious.”
She urged the public that as the vaccine would be rolled out people needed to continue wearing masks.
Advisory council member Professor Bruce Mellado said several hotspots have stabilised to 300 cases.
“The severity of the hotspots has also declined, it is a clear sign that the second wave is on a decline.”
Makhura said he was not yet keen on the easing of the lockdown levels due to still high number of hospital admissions.
“As it is now, if we were to lift the alcohol ban the 5,338 patients at our hospitals number will increase and go above 7,000. This thing happens very quickly. It is not like someone has a passionate hate for the sector, we use the evidence and science,” he said.
Makhura said the lifting of the alcohol ban would see a rise in trauma cases and put pressure on the hospitals.
“In this phase where we are now, I can assure you that it will be a very risky thing to do (lift ban).
“Look at what happened in December, we had the Mabopane highway blocked by young people who were on a drinking spree and that saw Tshwane having high cases.”
This article was republished from Rekord East with permission