The Eastern Cape provincial government is concerned about the daily increase of the Covid-19 coronavirus infections as a second wave looms.
Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, government spokesperson, urged all the people in the province to remain on high alert due to the increase in new infections.
“We are now seeing the second wave coming very strongly. We also warn our people where there are funerals or events that they cannot postpone or cannot avoid attending, that they need to continue wearing their masks and practice social distancing.
“We have a research study that shows that the number of people in the province who are wearing masks at funerals and other events is not at the level we would want it to be. That’s why we keep encouraging people to wear their masks and make sure they wash their hands and sanitise regularly,” said Sicwetsha.
He said to deal with the virus the province had adopted a new strategy, a clinical response to mitigate infections in high risk areas.
These areas include the Nelson Mandela Metro, the Sarah Baartman District Municipality and the Buffalo City Metro, where a university students’ party left scores infected last month.
“These are the three hotspot areas that we are focusing our resources on. But this is not to say we are not looking at other places in the province. We are looking at all places where there is an increasing spread in infections,” he said.
The province was also stepping up public education, communication, community mobilisation and enforcement of regulations.
To address these concerns, Sicwetsha said government had established a multi-sectoral team which includes the departments of health, social development, cooperative governance and traditional affairs, the police and community organisations.
Traditional leaders and religious organisations had also been roped in.
By Tuesday, the province had 103 180 confirmed cases, close to 4 000 people have died while 92 126 had recovered from the virus.
“As we approach next month, the provincial government is focusing on more awareness campaigns to deal with the social activities around the festive season. We call on the people, wherever they are, to adhere to the regulations that we have put out in place. Wearing a mask is a must for everyone when they leave home,” said Sicwetsha.
He said investments made in the healthcare infrastructure was starting to bear fruit, especially at hospitals in rural areas that had poor equipment.
Now people visiting these facilities can access services which were not available before the pandemic.
“If the second wave fully comes as it is predicted, the province will be able to shoulder the testing required because once there is an infection you need to ensure that all those that were exposed you are able to test them.”
DA’s Jane Cowley said the provincial government, especially the department of health, should communicate more as the second wave looms in the province.
“The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic [already] appears to be in full swing in the Eastern Cape, with the department of health already severely stretched as hospital admissions increase. The failure to communicate effectively on the continued dangers of this virus is resulting in a high degree of non-compliance.
“In the DA-administered Western Cape there is a live Covid-19 dashboard, accessible to the public with up to date statistics to keep the public informed.
“There were early warning signs throughout last month of a second wave forming in the province, with a significant uptick in cases in the two metros – Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City – in recent weeks,” she said.
Cowley said based on daily reports, there was a clear spike in cases.
She said based on the seven-day figures, the province had recorded an average of 616 cases per day over the past week, up from 434 the week before, and 283 before that.