A spike in Covid-19 cases in the Eastern Cape has the country worried, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday night.
“The evidence suggests that the increases in the Eastern Cape could have be triggered by outbreaks in institutions of higher learning, such as universities, and also in schools, and attendance by people at large gatherings.
“When this is combined with poor adherence to social distancing, mask wearing and other poor hygiene measures the environment for rising infections is set, with many people moving within the Eastern Cape and to other provinces, particularly the Western Cape,” said Ramaphosa.
The address came after a special sitting of cabinet that considered recommendations of the national coronavirus command council this week.
“The situation in the Eastern Cape is showing signs of a resurgence. In the past week, the number of new cases in the province was 50% higher than in the week before. And the total number of new cases in the past 14 days was around 145% higher than in the previous 14 days. These increases are being driven by huge spikes in the Nelson Mandela Metro and the Sarah Baartman District in particular,” he said.
For the last month, he said, there had been a sustained upward increase in hospital admissions in the province.
He said that with many people moving between the Eastern Cape and other provinces — particularly the Western Cape — it was a “matter of time” before this surge spread to other parts of the country.
“We therefore need to take measures to contain the rise in infections. In response to the rising infections, we are implementing the resurgence plan that has been developed together with the surge team deployed to SA by the World Health Organisation.
“Interventions include primary health care outreach teams to intensify contact tracing, daily community mobilisation, ensuring the readiness of health facilities, and being ready to respond to possible cluster outbreaks,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the national government would be working closely with the provincial government, municipalities and other institutions in the Eastern Cape to ensure that this surge was contained and managed.
“What we are witnessing in the Eastern Cape should be a wake-up call to all of us, that we cannot relax and we cannot be complacent. We are therefore also closely monitoring developments in areas that are experiencing higher than average rates of new infections.
“These areas include Lejweleputswa and Mangaung in the Free State, Frances Baard and Pixley ka Seme in the Northern Cape, and the Garden Route and Cape Town metro in the Western Cape,” said Ramaphosa.