Maverick Citizen

Maverick Citizen: Coronavirus

Spike in Nelson Mandela Bay Covid-19 cases: Residents asked to report gatherings

People line up at a clinic in Nelson Mandela Bay. (Photo: Donna van der Watt)

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality has called on residents to report large social gatherings to the police’s emergency line as the number of new and active Covid-19 infections in Nelson Mandela Bay jumped from 700 to 1,185 in the course of a weekend – but in a bizarre twist, the Eastern Cape Department of Health reported in a public release on Sunday that the province now has more recoveries than the total number of confirmed cases.

The Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) municipality has asked residents to report illegal large social gatherings to its law enforcement unit and the South African Police Services as the number of new Covid-19 cases in the metro went past the 1,000-mark over the weekend.

“Although the second wave was anticipated to hit the city around December, the increasing social gatherings have played a big role in spreading the virus with thousands of residents not adhering to the Covid-19 regulations,” the municipality said on Tuesday.

Statistics kept by the municipality further highlighted that nine children up to the age of four had tested positive for the virus, another 10 between the ages of five and nine, and 32 children between the ages of 10 and 14. Another 48 youngsters, aged 15 to 19, had also tested positive.

The infection incidence per 100,000 of the NMB population rose from 39.6/100,000 on 19 October to 93.5/100,000. The provincial average is 29.7/100 000.

The three big private hospitals in the metro, Life St George’s Hospital, Life Mercantile Hospital and Netcare Greenacres Hospital also suspended visiting hours, with a few exceptions, in response to an increase in hospitalisations.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health, which landed in hot water with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize for failing to report deaths accurately, has in its latest report on social media shared statistics showing that there is a greater number of recoveries than total cases in the province.

According to statistics shared on 25 October, there were 93,568 positive cases identified in the province and 93,986 recoveries. The statistics released also showed that there were 417 new cases and 1,997 active cases in the province.

The Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment on this issue.

The Democratic Alliance spokesperson for health in the province, Jane Cowley, said a comprehensive testing strategy was the only accurate means of establishing the true extent of the pandemic in the province.

“This must be coupled with an intensive tracking and tracing programme to find and test all direct contacts of Covid-19 patients, whether alive or deceased.

“Covid-19 statistics from the Eastern Cape Department of Health remain irregular and inaccessible to the public. The dashboard, which is now functional, but seemingly not for public consumption, has updated figures, but still refers to bed availability on the 20th of April,” she said.

For the past few months, the provincial department of health has released information only every two weeks.

Nelson Mandela Bay acting mayor, Councillor Thsonono Buyeye, said:

“We are extremely worried by these numbers. It clearly shows that something has gone wrong. To have so many children infected is alarming. Our general deaths as a result of Covid-19 are also increasing. On Friday we had about 700 active cases but on Monday the numbers had jumped alarmingly.”

“Motherwell is still our hotspot, followed by Uitenhage, KwaNobuhle and KwaZakhele. We would really like to appeal to our residents to take extra measures as current statistics show that we have cases in all our wards now,” said Buyeye.

Community leader Thembisile Nogampule said it was sad to see how many people had tested positive for the virus.

“I have seen the statement of the mayor. I have noticed in my clinic that people are coming to be tested even 10 at one time. There is still a great lack of education. Taverns are also a big problem. There is no curfew for them. They are always open,” he said. “People are having big parties and they are not wearing masks,” said Nogampule.

Buyeye said the city’s Metro Police with the South African Police Services will now begin to clamp down on social gatherings, nightclubs and other businesses that are found to be in contravention of the lockdown rules.

The chairperson of the metro’s disaster management forum, Shane Brown, said they are asking residents to report any illegal social gatherings to the emergency police line 1011.

“We do not want the second wave to be more aggressive than the first wave. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that these numbers go down again,” said Brown. DM/MC

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  • There is a perpetual habit of measuring the seriousness of the pandemic with cases. This way of assessing the situation is equivalent to equating the danger of road traffic accidents to the amount of people crossing the road. The more you test the more cases there will be. Increased cases means a casedemic. How serious is this disease outbreak in relation to deaths, who is dying and what of is a more pertinent question?