NATIONAL NEWS - The Western Cape government says citizens share face masks in taxis, which remains a key spreader of Covid-19 as a number of areas in South Africa are currently experiencing a second wave of infections.
This is after Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize confirmed on Wednesday that the country breached the 6000 mark in new Covid cases, with four provinces being the key drivers of the new wave including Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde held a digital press conference with provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete following the second wave announcement. The province has been preparing for the second wave since October.
During the conference, Cloete said the provincial government was seeing a dramatic increase in cases and hospital admissions as well as early signs of an increase of deaths in the last two weeks.
“The province as a whole continues to see a marked increase in cases taking us to levels previously seen in June, when we were close to our peak. Hospitalisations have also increased sharply since mid-November.
“The percentage proportion positive continues to rise, and is now above 30%, rapidly heading towards our previous peak just over 40%. The key message is that cases, hospitalisations and proportion positive are headed towards levels seen at the peak of the outbreak. We must also be mindful that this time, we do not have the protection of lockdown or an alcohol ban,” he said.
Cloete highlighted that rural districts in the province had exceeded their peak along with the Garden Route, however, there were early signs that cases were stabilising.
He said government was concerned with the rising number of infected healthcare workers, with 204 cases being reported over the past seven days while 25 workers were admitted to hospital with three deaths.
“The health facilities with the most infections are in the Garden Route and the metro, reflecting the state of the outbreak in those areas,” he continued to say.
The department head further said that the contact tracing and testing system in the province was taking strain.
“With numbers increasing so rapidly it is hard for people to be traced. Many people are ignoring the measures of social distancing, not attending large gatherings, and mask wearing and hand washing. There’s multiple reports of people sharing masks in taxis, which is a new phenomenon.
“There are some clusters…most cases are part of this generalised community transmission spread pattern, which is like an incremental increase of cases everywhere,” he added.