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More cops on roads led to drop in Western Cape trauma c...

South Africa

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More cops on roads led to drop in Western Cape trauma cases over Easter weekend: health department

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde at the Hospital of Hope field hospital in August 2020. Overall Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospital admissions are declining in the province, according to the health department. (Photo by Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais)

There was a marked decrease over the holiday break compared with the previous weekend when an alcohol ban was not in force, says department head Keith Cloete.

“This year on Easter we saw a blunting of trauma,” Western Cape Health Department head Dr Keith Cloete told a media briefing on Thursday, attributing it to an increased police presence on the roads as well as behavioural changes within communities.

During a pre-Easter briefing, the department urged Western Cape residents to take precautions over the holiday. In his address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa banned off-site alcohol sales between Friday, 2 April and Monday, 5 April owing to “the role of alcohol in fuelling reckless behaviour”.

On Thursday, Cloete said that, comparing the past two weekends, trauma cases decreased in 13 hospitals in the province. Between 26 and 29 March – the weekend before Easter when there had been no alcohol ban – there were 167 trauma admissions. Over the Easter weekend there were only 136. 

There were fewer cases than “what we would have expected”. 

Asked about superspreader events over Easter, Cloete said surveillance teams were still tracking cases, but if no traces linked to specific places or incidents were confirmed by Friday, it is “unlikely” there were any. 

In a statement this week, provincial transport and public works said there were only 25 people killed on the province’s roads over the Easter weekend. 

In addition, Cloete said the cases attributed to Stellenbosch University were now “mostly under control”, although there were still concerns about infections among young people.

He said that overall Covid-19 cases, deaths and hospital admissions were declining in the Western Cape. There were only 756 patients with Covid-19 complications in hospitals across the province. 

The province was moving into “heightened surveillance vigilance” and Cloete urged everyone to adhere to protective behaviours to “avert an early third wave”. DM

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