The latest COVID-19 figures from the Garden Route suggest that the virus is levelling out in the municipality, says The Western Cape’s Head of Health, Dr Keith Cloete.

Speaking during a weekly digi-conference on Thursday [December 10], Cloete said that while there is a slight equalisation in the Garden Route, cases continue to increase in the Cape Metro and Cape Winelands

“We are seeming to see a levelling out right at the peak and it might be early days for us to make that call but it seems to be a levelling off of the increases in the Garden Route. What we’re seeing is that has almost been a two to three-week delay in the metro, which is still on that very steep incline and now we’re seeing in time that the Cape Winelands is starting to follow.”

Premier Alan Winde added: “We have the first promising signs that the Garden Route is stabilising, pointing to this district reaching its peak For the first time since the start of the resurgence in the Garden Route, the 7 day and 14 day moving averages of new infections are crossing.

“The district is also starting to see signs of decreasing hospitalisations and deaths. There are therefore very hopeful signs that the Garden Route may have reached its peak.”

While the levelling is good news, Cloete cautions residents to continue to be extra wary as any super-spreader event could cause an astronomical spike in these numbers.

“Although we’re saying that there’s an early levelling because that’s the data, if you go onto the website, you’ll start noticing that the percentage increase day-to-day is up in the Garden Route and that just means that it’s off a very high base but any superspreader event, any new introduction can explode that again.”

The Western Cape as a whole continues to see a marked increase in COVID-19 cases, nearing levels previously seen in June 2020 at the peak of the virus.

– New COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days have grown by 53.4% when compared to the previous 7 days.

– Hospitalisations have increased sharply since mid-November, reaching 1615 on Wednesday, December 9.

– In the last week, the Western Cape conducted more tests (16 131) than since the first wave ended. The proportion of tests coming back positive continues to rise and is now above 30%. This is heading towards what was recorded during our first peak (40%).

– Oxygen usage at our hospitals also continues to increase.

– The number of health workers being infected by COVID-19 is also increasing, currently at 312 active cases.

– The City of Cape Town has shown a sharp increase in cases and continues on an upward trend.

– The patterns differ between sub-districts in the Metro, but all are showing an increase.

– The Southern and Western sub-districts, in particular, are showing a rapid increase in cases, with the 7-day moving average exceeding the first peak for both sub-districts.

– Outside of the Metro, the rural regions are showing a sharp increase in cases, and all sub-districts with the exception of the Garden Route remain on an upward trend.

Winde has submitted a plan to the President and National Minister of Health setting out how the Western Cape plans to respond to the resurgence. In that plan, he specifically asked for:

– Assistance with our enforcement activities, with additional resources being supplied to hotspots for this purpose.

– A reconsideration of the number of people being permitted to gather in hotspots, especially indoors, given that the virus spreads at gatherings and where there is poor ventilation.

– Potential consequences for those who refuse to wear a cloth mask, such as a fine.

Picture: Pexels

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