Health and government officials have warned about a spike in Covid-19 cases in South Africa, and the possible reintroduction of harder lockdown restrictions.
KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala said that a return to a hard lockdown is on the cards, unless the country sees a decline in the number of daily coronavirus cases.
“Looking at the statistics, we can now safely say that we are definitely going back into a hard lockdown if there is no urgent and drastic change in behaviour,” said Zikalala in a media briefing on Sunday (26 October).
He said that a second wave of Covid-19 will be ‘stronger and deadlier’ – not only in deaths, but also in terms of economic hardship. “There is no use in chasing profits today, only to be shut down by a hard lockdown tomorrow,” he said.
The premier pointed to “reckless trading in alcohol” which has the “potential to derail all the progress we have made in preparing our healthcare system for a potential onslaught of Covid-19”.
“We cannot tolerate that, and therefore our inspectors will be going out in full force to enforce the law,” he said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation this week about the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country, the SABC reported.
South Africa reported 1,622 new cases on Sunday (25 October), taking the total reported cases to 715,868.
Deaths have reached 18,960 (a daily increase of 16), while recoveries have climbed to 646,170, leaving the country with a balance of 50,738 active cases.
Zikalala’s comments come after health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said that he is concerned about an apparent spike in coronavirus cases.
Dr Mkhize said in a statement last week, that this wave in cases will be considered by the Department of Health as it makes new recommendations to government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
“As government, we have a responsibility to alert you when we see concerning trends. It would be irresponsible of us to ignore ‘small flames’ that we see redeveloping in some parts of the country,” he said.
Mkhize said that similar trends were seen in South Africa at the start of its coronavirus pandemic, which quickly led to an increased burden on the healthcare sector.
“I wish to bring to the attention of all South Africans that our epidemiological reports are showing that in the country, over the last seven days there has been an increase of 9.1% in new cases. Similarly, over the last 14 days, there has been an increase of 10.7%.”
He said that in the last seven days, there was a marked increase in the number of new cases in the Western Cape.
Mkhize said that the province recorded a 42% increase in new infections. He said that government’s terminology defines this significant spike in new cases as a ‘resurgence’.
“The Western Cape Provincial Health Department has identified specific clusters that are responsible for the increase in cases, and has advised that each of these clusters has been investigated and a detailed outbreak response is being mounted.
“We have noted that the single biggest cluster outbreak has been identified to be in the Southern Sub-district in the Cape Metro, and this has been associated with a super-spreader event in a bar.
“We await further reports from the Western Cape health response teams who are now required to target the sub-districts with a high increase of new cases over the last two weeks.”
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) October 22, 2020