CORONAVIRUS: EASTER WEEKEND

Western Cape health department urges vigilance during holiday period

By Suné Payne 31 March 2021

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

If you’re going to have an event or be travelling this Easter weekend, take precautionary measures, said the Western Cape health department as it took its message of Covid-19 compliance to the Western Cape legislature.

Officials from the Western Cape health department have called for vigilance during the upcoming holiday period.

On Wednesday, Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo and departmental head Dr Keith Cloete appeared before the legislature’s ad hoc committee on Covid-19.

They said that by 1pm on Wednesday, 31 March there had been 280,029 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the province with 266,269 recoveries. At the same time, there were 2,258 active Covid-19 cases in the province, with 794 patients in hospital with Covid-19 complications.

Cloete told the committee the Western Cape was in an intervening phase of Covid-19 infections – where the province is between waves of infections. Epidemiological modelling results about a third wave would be revealed in the coming weeks, said Cloete.

“When it comes to the third wave, nobody knows,” said Mbombo, in response to a question about the intensity of a third wave from Wendy Philander, the chairperson of the legislature’s health oversight committee.

With the holiday season fast approaching, Cloete asked that people remain “very vigilant”.

Christians are celebrating Easter this weekend and the Jewish community is currently celebrating Passover. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts this month. Then, between 23 April and 3 May, public schools will be on holiday.

This is not the first time a warning to be vigilant has been issued by the province – in March, Mbombo urged people to remember that Covid-19 was not over yet.

In addition, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in an address to the nation on Tuesday evening, also urged caution during Easter.

“While the rate of transmission remains stable, we cannot let our guard down. This is a time when caution is needed more than ever,” said the president.

During his presentation, Cloete urged the following:

  • Avoid unnecessary interprovincial travel; and
  • Avoid gatherings with crowds of people who come from different places, especially older people or those with comorbidities.

If there is a need for a gathering:

  • Keep it small;
  • Keep it short;
  • Keep it outdoors; and
  • Practise social distancing, wear masks and remember hand hygiene.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) member Ferlon Christians asked the health department if there had been any superspreader events related to the reopening of churches, and if inspections were made at churches to check on physical distancing and mask wearing.

Cloete responded that the department had “documented incidents” of clusters of infections traced back to funerals and churches. He said the department had not performed inspections at churches, but emphasised the responsibility to do things properly, “and looking after people so that there’s no new clusters forming”. DM

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