The Western Cape and Eastern Cape governments have published new data showing the areas across the two provinces which have seen a surge in coronavirus cases.
These ‘hotspots’ are a growing point of concern for the provincial governments, with both considering the introduction of localised lockdowns to curb the spread.
The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) will meet virtually on Tuesday (1 December) to discuss the resurgence of cases being seen in these hotspot areas.
Two sources close to the discussions told News24 that bars and taverns are likely to be the first in the firing line when it comes to restrictions, with the sale of alcohol likely to be restricted.
Other restrictions which are set to be discussed include a proposal to implement a stricter curfew, and restrict the maximum number for gatherings and other measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 ahead of the festive period.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde met with health officials on Friday, with a five-point plan from the department of health set to be presented to the provincial cabinet on Tuesday for adoption.
On Monday, Winde said his government is considering the ‘blunt instrument’ of a mini-lockdown, indicating that it was a last resort option.
He asked people to continue social distancing and practising health safety precautions while wearing a mask and encouraged residents to scale down any planned events as the country heads into the holiday season.
“What is happening in other parts of the world, such as Australia and Singapore, is what they call a circuit breaker. The easiest way to explain it would be a mini-lockdown,” he said.
This involves putting certain regulations in a municipality or district for six days: no weddings, no funerals, no superspreader events, no permits issued.
Data published by the Western Cape provincial government shows that most major regions have seen an alarming spike in cases.
Marked increases of 73% in new Covid-19 cases and 28% in new Covid-19 deaths over the last seven days paints a clear picture why the Cape metropole has been deemed as having established resurgence.
Subdistricts in the metro which are of great concern such as the Southern Suburbs (87%), Mitchells Plain (185%) and Khayelitsha (92%) have recorded the greatest number of new cases this week.
Over the past seven days, the Garden Route has seen a 117% increase in new Covid-19 cases and 96% increase in deaths.
“After recording 1,282 new cases and 25 new deaths over the past seven days, all areas in the Garden Route are of great concern.
“As we have seen during the first wave of infections, once community transmission is established within communities, especially in the Garden Route as a prime tourist destination, the situation can quickly deteriorate if not brought under control soon.”
Some of the other areas in the province which have been identified as a concern include:
- Beaufort West
- Breede Valley
- Cape Agulhas
- Saldanha Bay
The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality publishes a daily map showing the regions across the metro which have seen an outbreak in cases.
The data shows that Uitenhage is one of the key areas of concern, alongside Motherwell, Walmer, New Brighton, and Zwide.
Nelson Mandela Bay acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye has said that national and provincial health authorities are considering a number of restrictions to fight the coronavirus case surge in the region, including limitations on how and where alcohol may be sold.
Buyeye told Cape Talk that officials had presented a number of proposed restrictions to health minister Zweli Mkhize, including:
- The introduction of an earlier curfew time. South Africa currently has a national curfew in place between 00h00 and 04h00;
- Further restrictions on public gatherings;
- The temporary suspension of sit-down alcohol sales for taverns.
Buyeye did not clarify whether alcohol sales would be impacted at restaurants or liquor stores.
Speaking on the restrictions around liquor sales, Buyeye said that the city’s tavern owners have submitted a proposal themselves to allow for ‘takeaway alcohol sales’ in an effort to curb coronavirus spread through on-site consumption.
“It is about time that (tavern) owners start doing things differently by making sure that people don’t come and drink at their premises,” he said.
He added that these decisions still need to be confirmed by the government’s National Coronavirus Command Council, with a decision set to be announced later this week.