GARDEN ROUTE DISTRICT NEWS - Western Cape premier Alan Winde has welcomed the new risk-aligned strategy to the lockdown that was announced by Pres Cyril Ramaphosa.
In a statement this morning he says it will see the country move to slightly more relaxed restrictions on 1 May.
"We welcome this approach, which balances the need to remain cautious to prevent new infections, with the need to re-open the economy so that people can start to return to work."
"We await further details from the national government on the details of the restrictions that will be enforced per level. As we have seen during the present lockdown, clear directives are critical to ensure public and business compliance," he said.
Working out the details
Though the details are not clear yet, it appears that level four continues to restrict some services which have been lobbied to be considered as essential. "An example of this is the sale of books and stationery, which are not clearly defined for sale under this stage of lockdown.
If schools are not yet allowed to reopen, stationery and books are essential tools which will help parents ensure that their children are able to continue to learn and read during this period.
He welcomed the President’s call for submissions on the proposed levels before they are finalised and said they will certainly embrace this opportunity.
"In this respect, we will be working urgently with various businesses and industries, as well as our own workstreams, to seek their input on the proposed levels, prior to submitting a consolidated submission to the Presidency and Cogta.
"For our part, we will work with the national government to ensure that once implemented, the new approach is effective in stopping the spread while still allowing for necessary economic activity to resume."
Call to stick to lockdown rules
Winde warned against the temptation to see these relaxed regulations as a lifting of the lockdown. "We call on all residents to continue to abide by the rules, which are in place to ensure that we are able to limit the spread. The new regulations place additional responsibility on our citizens to stop the spread."
The country will only be able to move down in levels, towards the new normal, when and where data shows that the number of new infections have stabilised.
Screening and testing
It is crucial to implement a rigorous screening and testing regime across South Africa, as the new phased lockdown approach is based on this data. “In the Western Cape, we have done so. We therefore expect the number of laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases to climb in our province,” he said.
“Since the start of April, our community screening teams have reached over 150 000 people in communities across the province."
Over the past week, nearly 9 000 tests have been conducted in the province as part of the active case finding approach to make sure that every person who might have been infected with Covid-19 is identified as quickly as possible.
"We have embraced testing because if we know someone is Covid-19 positive, we can ensure that they isolate, and we can stop the spread the virus to others.
"We can also follow up with their contacts immediately and start the process all over again. It also means that we can care for those who might be very sick because of the virus."
Pockets of infections
"Our screening and testing teams are deployed based on data which actively identifies and follows the “bush fires” – the pockets of infections within communities. We identify these pockets whenever we confirm a Covid-19 case, and our rigorous contact-tracing teams track their previous movements and contacts. Many of these referred tests were reported in the last 24 hours, bringing up our total of new infections considerably."
Winde reassured residents the rapid increase in the number of new laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 in the Western Cape, is a natural result of the more rigorous testing approach. Rigorous screening and testing is part of the strategy, as it is the best way to contain the virus and to flatten the curve.
He called on every single member of the community to play their part, as this is how we can prevent our health system from being overwhelmed, thus saving many lives.
“We are going to face a very challenging time in the weeks and months to come. The lockdown has helped, but it has not stopped the virus. The peak is still to come, and many people will be infected by Covid-19."
We can stop the spread
"We have to do this by continuing with what we have learnt already: we must always follow good hygiene practices and wear a cloth mask when in public at all times. We must stay home and keep a distance from others. If we are sick, we must not leave our house: and first call our hotline to find out what to do next.
"We must work harder now than ever before. I know we can stop the spread, if we all work together in this way.”
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