The Western Cape is the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa and the province is expected to hit its peak as soon as next week, says Premier Alan Winde.

“We still are tracking according to our original scenario that we sketched for this virus, and are still on track for peaking towards the end of this month and the beginning of next month, and that means that as we open up the economy we have to be more vigilant than ever. We’ve got to make sure that we embed the new normal, and specifically into those hotspot areas so that we keep down the growth of this virus,” he said during the weekly digi-conference.

Figures released on Thursday [June 19] show the Cape has 12 738 active COVID-19 cases, and have recorded 1 205 deaths. Approximately 500 patients are in hospital and 240 are being treated in intensive care units.

Dr Keith Cloete, HoD of the Western Cape Health Department said, the province’s status as a popular tourism destination may have contributed towards the coming peak.

According to Cloete, “quite a lot” of people visited the Western Cape at the end of March, and these included tourists from outside the country, and locals who were returning from overseas. This effectively led to local transmission cases, which then led to the current hotspots the province has.

“Those seeds were planted towards the end of March,” he said.

In response to the growing need for more hospital beds, the Western Cape has completed the construction and setting up of 19 new triage and testing centres to help ease the strain of the expected peak on medical health facilities. Fourteen have been built in the Cape Town metropole and five have been completed in non-metro regions.

“We are currently working to bring an additional 14 online in the metro by July 1, and an additional 26 in our non-metro regions by the middle to end of July. These testing and triage centres are an important part of our healthcare readiness response as they allow for testing to be conducted separately from other hospital functions, and also ensure that our emergency units are not overwhelmed by requests for testing,” Winde said.

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Picture: Bitou Municipality

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Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.