No one can explain definitively why the Western Cape’s Covid-19 death and infection rates are plateauing despite the further reopening of the economy and more people being out and about.
This is according to Western Cape Health Department head Keith Cloete who, with Premier Alan Winde and Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, on Wednesday gave an update on the province’s response to the pandemic.
Cloete said: “This question has got many people puzzled. The many different epidemiological models are looking at all the factors that can explain this pattern that we see.
“The assumption is that there are a number of factors and the number of people who get infected was potentially overestimated in the original assumption.
“Also, there may have been a level of behavioural change setting in, and thus the differential patterns.
“But I am saying all these things as maybes. There are no definite answers, and the exciting part about this is that we really don’t know.
“The scientists really don’t know, and it is going to take time to find a credible answer. Case mortality and hospitalisation data have shown plateauing and early signs of reducing burden,” Cloete added.
“These are most marked in areas with highest previous burden such as Khayelitsha and Klipfontein, where cases are stable and hospitalisation and reported deaths are easing further.”
However, Cloete reiterated that despite a drop-off in the number of deaths and infections, this was not to say that things couldn’t flare up.
“It is essential for us to ensure a strong focus on containment for the next 12 to 18 months,” he added.
Winde, who previously tested positive, said: “Even my own experience of having the virus while in a household where we were quarantined, where my wife and daughter were in direct contact with me through that period and didn’t have any symptoms.
“This shows that masks and frequent sanitising definitely do work.
“I must have been contagious for a few days and nobody else in that close environment actually picked up any symptoms from me.
“So I think now more that ever before, we must make sure that we stick to the rules, because that is how we will avert a second wave. This is critical for us in the Western Cape.”
Mbombo added: “Comprehensive non-Covid-19 clinical services will be reintroduced on to the clinical service platform from August.
“These will include immunisation of children, ensuring the uptake of TB treatment and the uptake of the ARVs, as we can longer only focus on Covid-19.
“The services will be reintroduced within a framework of universal health care and by applying the lessons learnt from a ‘Whole of Society’ approach.”