Covid-19: Experts fear Eastern Cape surge could lead to second wave in SA in new year - report

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  • Eastern Cape authorities are proposing a tightening of restrictions, effectively taking the province back to Level 3 of the national lockdown regulations.
  • Experts say South Africa could face a second wave of Covid-19 if outbreaks in the Eastern Cape are not contained.
  • Festive season travelling and matric celebrations could lead to super-spreader events, which could see a surge in Covid-19 cases.

South Africa could face a second wave of Covid-19 cases if outbreaks in the Eastern Cape are not contained, experts have warned.

Should the outbreaks continue unabated, the country could face a second wave early in the new year, Sunday media reports say.

There has been a surge of cases in Nelson Mandela Bay, with the metro now accounting for more than 50% of the country's daily infections, according to the Sunday Times.

Experts have raised concerns that this may spread to other parts of the country as thousands travel for the festive season. This weekend, thousands of matric pupils travelled to coastal towns to celebrate the conclusion of their exams – which could cause super-spreader events.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, head of the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee, told the publication he was concerned about factories closing on 16 December, and thousands of people then travelling across the country, some to the Eastern Cape.

He reportedly said he feared that "three weeks later when the holidays are over they will be taking the virus throughout the country".

READ | News24's Covid-19 dashboard: Track the spread, recovery and mortality statistics here

In response, Eastern Cape authorities are proposing to halt on-site consumption of alcohol at taverns and pubs, extending the curfew and reducing the number of people permitted at social gatherings. The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is expected to hear the proposal next week.

According to Netwerk24, restrictions similar to those imposed under Level 3 of the national lockdown are likely to be rolled out in the province. The report added that Health Minister Zweli Mkhize had visited the province and said steps were needed to restrict the spread of the virus.

However, according to the Sunday Times, Mkhize said no decision had been taken about added restrictions in the province.

News24 reported this week that the number of people dying from natural causes in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in the Eastern Cape is now higher than it was at any point in the province's first surge of Covid-19.

Researchers tracking weekly deaths on Wednesday reported 393 excess deaths for the week of 11 to 17 November.

READ MORE | Resurgence: Weekly excess deaths in NMB higher than during 'first surge'

The highest weekly death toll previously was 307 for the week 1 to 7 July, according to the latest weekly mortality report prepared by the SA Medical Research Council and UCT actuaries.

- Compiled by Nicole McCain

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