Caution against pandemic fatigue, and to remain guarded against Covid-19 have been sounded by health experts, as fears of a second wave of infections grow.
Pandemic fatigue can be defined as a general weariness and exhaustion due to the measures in place to contain the spread of the virus, resulting in fewer people strictly adhering to the non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) such as social distancing, wearing a mask and sanitising hands, etc.
Western Cape Health spokesperson Maret Lesch said with more people returning to work and a higher density of people congregating, a second wave of infection remains a possibility and people should not let their guard down.
“Our hotspot containment and behaviour change strategies also continue, ensuring that we slow and contain the spread of the virus across our province. Our best defence against new infections remains changing our behaviour and observing safety precautions, such as wearing our masks, physical distancing, and hand washing,” said Lesch.
While 85-90% of people who contract the virus recover, vigilance should be applied and people should think of those who are more vulnerable and susceptible to contracting the virus and becoming severely ill, such as the elderly and those with comorbidities.
To ensure ongoing vigilance, Lesch urged the public to get tested, should they feel the need to do so, as testing is an important tool in the province’s containment strategy.
The testing criteria in the Cape Town metro have widened and now include testing in the case of asymptomatic pre-op patients; natural cause deaths at home; public sector “essential” workers with symptoms; incarcerated people with symptoms; school pupils and staff with symptoms, and workers in workplaces with symptoms.
An increase in testing has been noted since the widening of the testing criteria and, even then, the province continues to see a decline in test positivity rates, she said.
Premier Alan Winde said all measures should be taken to avert a second wave of the virus, and attributed the “slacking” in adherence to NPI that could be seen in some parts of the province due to the positive decline in the number of confirmed cases, deaths and case hospitalisations.
“It’s very important that we don’t relax, that we keep the protocols going. We all know what to do. But there is fatigue. There is fatigue in citizens taking responsibility. There is also donor fatigue. People raising money for people who have lost their jobs and can’t feed their families. So we’re seeing general fatigue across the board, and my message is: please, don’t allow that to slow us down. We have to keep the discipline and the responsibility going.”