South Africa’s first Covid-19 epicentre is showing signs of plateauing

South Africa’s first epicentre for Covid-19, the Western Cape, is showing signs of a plateau, according to the most recent data collection.

Western Cape Health Department head Dr Keith Cloete said in a digital press conference on Wednesday (29 July): “The general trends show that our cases, our mortality and our hospitalisation data, is showing clear signs of a sustained plateauing.”

He said that cases are stabilising, as are hospitalisations, and deaths.

Dr Cloete said there is some early sign of ‘reduce’ in burden. He said that this is most marked in hotspot areas that showed the highest burden like Khayelitsha and Klipfontein.

He said that from sequencing the early cases of infection, scientific data shows that the virus started earlier in the Western Cape, than in other parts of the country, and is maturing earlier than elsewhere.

Where the Western Cape at one point accounted for around half of all infections, and around 65% of all deaths from Covid-19, in May, it now accounts for around 20% of all infections.

South Africa on Tuesday evening recorded fewer than 10,000 new Covid-19 cases for two days in a row, for the first time in almost a month. However, it most be noted that fewer tests have been conducted over the past 48-hours.

On Tuesday, the country registered 7,232 new infections, taking the number of people officially diagnosed with coronavirus to 459,761.

Gauteng accounts for 35.8% of the positive cases and remains the only province that has surpassed the 100,000 mark.

To date, the country’s economic hub has had 164,584 infections, followed by the Western Cape (92,983), Eastern Cape (75,067) and KwaZulu-Natal (68,101).

The death toll has climbed to 7,257 after 190 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said.

Of the new deaths, 62 are from KwaZulu-Natal, 55 from Gauteng, 49 from the Western Cape, 13 from the North West and 11 from the Eastern Cape.

As many as 287 313 people have recovered to date.

Also, the statistics show that women represent a vast majority of total infections.

Dr Cloete said that tests in the western Cape peaked in June. Private and public healthcare testing has seen a decline, not because of a change in regimen, but because of a reduction in demand for tests.

He said that while testing peaked at 40% for test positivity rate, this has now declined to less than 30%. “This means that around one in every three persons tested is positive,” the doctor said.

Dr Cloete pointed out that the testing strategy in the Western Cape has not been to test everybody, but instead, those admitted to a health facility, over a certain age, with comorbidities, and health care workers.

Using health care workers as a sub group, he said that the same declining numbers have been reported as with the larger testing sample.

Read: South Africa – was it even supposed to qualify?

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South Africa’s first Covid-19 epicentre is showing signs of plateauing