Western Cape enters fourth Covid-19 wave

The Western Cape has officially entered the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, recording an average 1 600 daily new cases. Still in an early stage, the province is not recording the same rapid increases in hospital admissions and deaths as previous waves. 

In a joint statement by the provincial government and its department of health on Monday 13 December, Premier Alan Winde encouraged citizens not to panic.  

“While it is always scary to hear we are facing another wave of Covid-19 cases, we must remain calm and turn our anxiety into action. We can do this by following four steps: vaccinate as soon as possible, ensure you wear your mask, ensure good ventilation with lots of fresh air and, if you are meeting others, do it outside.”

Using the technical definition provided by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), the Western Cape reached the fourth wave when new Covid-19 cases reached 30% of the peak of the previous wave, based on a seven-day moving average. 

The province’s seven-day moving average of new daily cases increased to about 1 600 cases and is expected to rise. This is well above the NICD’s guidelines of a fourth wave of 1 100 new daily cases. 

“The Western Cape is not yet seeing the same rapid increases in hospitalisations and deaths as previous waves, although it is still too early to tell if this trend will continue over the next few weeks,” reads the statement. 

As of Sunday, the province’s Covid-19 admissions to private and public hospitals were at 439, with a total of 45 people admitted to intensive- and high care.

The MEC for health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo noted the importance of vaccinating against the coronavirus. 

“We need to protect our healthcare system, especially so we do not have to de-escalate other life-saving services. The best way to do this is to vaccinate because vaccinations prevent severe illness. It will keep you out of the hospital and out of ICU. Please act now, so that you get through this wave safely.”

The Western Cape’s health department says it is closely monitoring data and will provide more information as soon as possible.As of Sunday, the province had 10 471 active Covid-19 cases, according to the latest Covid-19 statistics. It is the province with the third highest active cases. Gauteng has 88 551 cases with KwaZulu-Natal at 22 486.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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