Gauteng Covid-19 numbers point to recovery: Makhura

Gauteng premier David Makhura has published a breakdown of the latest Covid-19 numbers in the province, pointing to a flattening of active cases amid a declining weekly average of infection.

According to the latest data, as at 6 June 2020, Gauteng has a total of 187,631 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 2,388 casualties.

However, with recoveries at 132,002, the number of active cases is 53,241 – a relatively flat rate after rising mid- to end-July.

“We are back to a place where there are fewer daily infections and more recoveries,” Makhura said. “While this is comforting, we do not want to send out a message that we are out of the woods.”

The premier said that the province cannot risk complacency, and  should be ramping up preventative measures.

The virus is still leading to deaths largely among those aged 50 and over, which account for 80% of all deaths recorded in the province.

Hypertension and diabetes remain the biggest risk factor for fatalities; however 22% of deaths are those who recorded no comorbidities.

The number of new reported daily cases has also declined to around 2,400 new cases following a peak of 6,000+ in July. The rolling 7-day average has shown a much steeper decline, at 1,770, versus 5,200 at the peak.

“There is a positive story around the recovery rate, which is back at 70%. There is a positive story in the number of active cases. This is a response to the work being done on the ground in the province,” the premier said.

He added that hospital admissions are also declining. However, he stressed that while the peak experienced in the past few weeks is easing, it does not mean that the province is over the peak.

“It may have been a wave, the first wave of the peak. We’re still working on the basis that we will go through the toughest time – that the worst is still to come,” he said.

“This is the right message to send. We don’t want people to think that we are okay, the people who have responded to the message of wearing masks and not going out in public, etc.”

Regionally, Johannesburg remains the hardest-hit metro – though in terms of active cases, Tshwane leads.

In Sub-districts, a similar picture emerges: while Joburg regions carry the highest confirmed tally, Tshwane districts have the highest number of active cases. Makhura said that districts that previously had the highest number of active cases (Joburg inner city, Joburg south) responded well to targeted interventions.

Lower demand for testing

According to Makhura, 6 August marks the week that testing in the province passed the one million mark, accounting for 34% of all tests conducted in South Africa.

Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Group professor Salim Abdool Karim told ENCA that demand for Covid-19 tests in South Africa dropping.

Speaking on concerns that the Health Department was doing fewer tests – hence declining numbers of new infections – the professor said that it was more the fact that there are fewer people needing tests.

The way to see the changes, one needs to look at the proportion of positive tests in any given testing sample.

“If the proportion of tests that are positive is also coming down, then it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing less testing, you are just taking fewer cases of people who are suspected of having Covid-19,” he said.

“What you see here is a decline in demand for testing,” Karim said.

Now that Gauteng’s numbers are declining, the overall picture will be led by cases in KwaZulu-Natal, which are on the rise.

“Everything in terms of where this epidemic is going to go to in the next week or two is going to be heavily influenced by KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.

Read: New coronavirus data shows positive signs for the Western Cape

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Gauteng Covid-19 numbers point to recovery: Makhura