NATIONAL NEWS - Nelson Mandela Bay has been identified as a Covid-19 hotspot by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his address to the nation last nigt.
“The global pandemic continues to cause devastation across the world, with more than 64 million infections and nearly one-and-a-half million confirmed deaths.
“We’ve seen many countries experience a resurgence of the virus and some have seen a second wave worse than their initial peak.”
He said South Africa once had the fifth-highest number of infections in the world and moved to 14th as infections in other countries surged.
“A total of 800 872 people are confirmed to have been infected by the virus in SA since March. Around 92 per cent recovered. As of today 21 803 people are known to have died,” said Ramaphosa.
“There is now evidence of a resurgence in parts of South Africa which, if not confronted, could lead to huge suffering.”
He said since the middle of August, SA managed to keep its infection rate at an average of 2 000 new cases a day.
“This changed in the last three weeks with a marked increase in new infections and hospital admissions.”
He said in the first week of November the country recorded, on average, 1 500 new cases per day. This doubled in the last week of November to an average of 2 900 cases per day.
“Yesterday, more than 4 400 new cases were recorded. This was the highest daily increase since the middle of August.”
The president identified Nelson Mandela Bay and Sarah Baartman District in the Eastern Cape and the Garden Route District in the Western Cape as the areas which account for most of the new infections.
“Hospital admissions in these districts are on the rise. In some instances they are comparable to the first wave of infections.”
“There are a number of reasons for the rise in transmissions. These include people travelling between provinces and within each province in higher numbers. In the case of the Garden Route, this also applies to the movement of seasonal workers who travel between provinces.”
He said the rise in transmissions also stems from social, cultural and religious gatherings often attended by more people than regulated and in poorly ventilated venues.
“Nelson Mandela Bay hospitals are reporting an increase in alcohol-related trauma admissions and these divert our capacity to deal with Covid-19 cases.”
“The greatest contributing cause of infections is people not wearing masks. People are not observing proper hygiene and social distancing.
“Our most urgent task now is to contain the rise in affected districts to prevent similar situations in other areas. We have now put a resurgence plan in place which includes expanding public health interventions such as testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine.”
He said due to the spike in Covid-19 infections in Nelson Mandela Bay, the metro has been declared a coronavirus hotspot.
“When identifying a hotspot, consideration is given to the number of new cases per day, the testing rate within the population, the percentage positivity rate within the population, the number of active cases, the number of hospital admissions and the number of deaths.”
“Additional restrictions in the municipality are necessary to control the spread of the virus and lessen the impact on strained health services.”
He said additional restrictions include a curfew of 10pm to 4am and the sale of alcohol will only be allowed between 10am to 6pm from Mondays to Thursdays.
Gatherings, including religious events, can only host 100 people indoors and 250 people for outdoor events.
“The summer initiation season in the Eastern Cape can go ahead as traditional leaders in the Eastern Cape submitted a risk-adjusted plan that has been approved by the Health and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs departments. Due to the high rate of infections in the metro, no initiation schools will be allowed in Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Ramaphosa.
He said Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize will visit Sarah Baartman District and the Garden Route to assess the situation and to engage with various stakeholders in the province.
Based on this assessment and the development of the disease in these areas, the National Coronavirus Command Council will determine the appropriate course of action.
Ramaphosa announced that the National State of Disaster will be extended to January 15, existing Level 1 restrictions remain.
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