Newsflash

Restive season: Western Cape urges holidaymakers to change their behaviour this year

By Suné Payne 3 December 2020

Beach photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash and Mask photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Coronavirus cases are on the increase in the Western Cape and premier Alan Winde says the province will be enforcing Level 1 restrictions this holiday season.

“You are going to be having a holiday with a difference,” said Western Cape premier Alan Winde on Thursday, 3 December, as he fielded questions from journalists about the surge in Covid-19 cases in the province ahead of the festive season. 

Winde, together with health MEC Nomafrench Mbomo, departmental head Dr Keith Cloete and epidemiologist Prof Mary Ann Davies, briefed the media on the spike in coronavirus cases as well as the province’s plans to help flatten this latest curve. 

Watch his briefing here:

Western Cape Government Digital Press Conference

Join our digital press conference to provide an update on the Covid-19 situation in the province and to outline the Western Cape’s interventions to flatten the curve over the festive season.

I will be joined by Minister of Health, Nomafrench Mbombo and Head of Health Dr Keith Cloete.

Please note that this digicon will take place earlier than its regular timeslot.

Posted by Premier Alan Winde on Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Over the past few weeks, Winde has expressed his concern at the mounting number of Covid-19  infections along the Garden Route and in the Cape metro

At Thursday’s briefing, he emphasised the golden rules of Covid-19 prevention: handwashing, physical distancing and mask wearing.

Winde said that “December brings a different dynamic to our province”.

Since the last briefing, he said the province has had consultations with police, law enforcement, the national health department and even the presidency over the rising cases and possible further restrictions. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Curfew and booze ban on the cards as holiday towns wait for Ramaphosa to speak

Winde said that after the consultations, it was agreed that behavioural change is what is needed. 

Asked if it were safe to travel to the Garden Route for the holidays, Winde said the area was open and that people could travel – but “you’ve got to apply common sense”. This means wearing a mask and not attending large gatherings. 

Winde said the Western Cape would adopt a three-pronged approach to try to contain the resurgence of Covid-19 cases. These are: the continuation of the province’s healthcare response, behavioural change to prevent new infections and increased enforcement of Level 1 regulations. 

“The behaviour of the community is what determines where we go,” said MEC Mbombo. She urged people to wear masks when shopping in malls and supermarkets.

Mbombo said national health minister Dr Zweli Mhkize would be heading to the Garden Route on Friday, 4 December, to speak to mayors and officials about the increase in cases. 

Dr Keith Cloete said hospitalisations and oxygen use by Covid-19 patients was on the increase.

By Thursday morning, there were 1,253 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the province – 680 were in public hospitals and another 573 were being treated in the private sector. 

Key to the province’s Covid-19 containment strategy is: 

  1. Changing community behaviours to prevent infections (through coordinated provincial, district and local enforcement as well as central public messaging and targeted local messaging).
  2. Surveillance and outbreak response (strategy is being implemented, as well as daily huddles, which are “functioning well” to contain local outbreaks. 
  3. Scaling up health platform Covid-19 capacity ( putting up contingency plans in each geographic area).
  4. Maintaining comprehensive services (maintaining essential health services while scaling up Covid-19 capacity).
  5. Safeguarding and protecting the wellbeing of all frontline staff (which includes providing sufficient personal protective equipment). 

In closing, Cloete said, “the increase in active cases in all districts represents an established resurgence in the Western Cape”. This was especially true in the Garden Route and the Cape metro. 

Cloete said with the “rapid increase” in hospitalisation data, mortality rates were also starting to increase. 

“Our local teams are on high alert for local surveillance and response to clusters,” said Cloete, adding that “the biggest concern is non-adherence to protective behaviours – there is a big need for targeted enforcement and behaviour change interventions”. DM

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