Second wave means it must be ’festive season with a difference’

People are required to continue washing and sanitising their hands, wearing masks, and maintaining physical distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The presidency last week confirmed that the country is definitely in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the time of publication, South Africans were waiting for the President to address the nation on possible restrictions over the festive season.

On Wednesday December 9 Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the numbers were increasing and that statistical models constituted a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Mr Mkhize said the four provinces pushing up the numbers were the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng

“It is important for us to highlight that four provinces are the key drivers of this new wave. We look at the number of tests done, the positivity rate, the number of positive cases, the percentage positive, the numbers of people who are admitted, and the number of fatalities.”

All of these together showed an indication of an increase on a week-to-week period over a seven-day period.

Mr Mkhize said since the end of September the country’s numbers decreased to as low as 1 000 new cases, but the numbers had increased and overtaken the 6000-mark.

“In the past few days, the age distribution has also shown a different pattern from the norm. The peak age at this period is now 15 to 19 years of age. This is a new issue and this is what is most worrying. It is believed to be due to a number of large parties with young people drinking alcohol with no adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“If this trajectory continues, our healthcare systems will be overwhelmed. Hence, part of the recommendations being tabled by provinces are now looking at how to contain these large gatherings and parties. The decision will be made by the NCCC.”

Mr Mkhize said provincial leadership has been mobilised to deal with the surge.

In the Southern Subdistrict of Cape Town, a grim picture is being painted with a 67 percent increase in new cases over the past week up until Friday December 11, and 127 new Covid deaths – a 108% increase from the previous week.

Hospital admissions have also been rising rapidly – with outbreaks being experienced in Grassy Park, Lotus River, Retreat, Ottery and Plumstead. Ongoing outbreaks continue in Ocean View, Wynberg, Claremont, Masiphumelele, Pelican Park, Strandfontein and Steenberg. Early outbreaks had been noted in Fish Hoek, Kenilworth and Mowbray.

Health department spokesperson Natalie Watlington said contact tracing team members had reported that more than 80% of the positive cases followed up in the health department’s southern and western substructures were unsure how they had contracted the virus. Of the remaining cases, the top three sources of infection were at home or from a family member, at social gatherings or from a friend and at the workplace.

Ms Watlington said the department once again appeals to all citizens in these areas to do their part so that the situation could be brought under control again.

Prevent the spread

  • Always wear a mask when you are outside your home. Ensure it covers your nose and mouth.Avoid crowded and confined spaces at all costs. This is where super-spreader events take place.Reconsider hosting all non-essential gatherings of people, especially indoor gatherings with poor ventilation.Ensure there is always good ventilation whenever you’re in public. The virus droplets spread by air in confined spaces, and so fresher is better. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use sanitiser.If you feel sick, you should not leave your home unless it is to get healthcare treatment. You must first call the health department’s hotline on 080 928 4102 for guidance on the next steps. Do not visit someone who is sick. Rather find other ways to provide support, like delivering a meal to a neighbour’s doorstep.

There will be an increase of testing capacity in the southern subdistrict, with Covid-19 testing available during the week at any of the provincial health facilities.

Louise Appolis, primary health care manager for the substructure said: “For ease of access and especially with the resurgence of cases, we want all patients to be aware of testing times so that they are able to access the facility for testing at the appropriate times.”

Where to go for help

Should you be experiencing any mild symptoms, visit your nearest facility for testing from Monday to Friday during the week during the following hours:

  • Always wear a mask when you are outside your home. Ensure it covers your nose and mouth.Avoid crowded and confined spaces at all costs. This is where super-spreader events take place.Reconsider hosting all non-essential gatherings of people, especially indoor gatherings with poor ventilation.Ensure there is always good ventilation whenever you’re in public. The virus droplets spread by air in confined spaces, and so fresher is better. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use sanitiser.If you feel sick, you should not leave your home unless it is to get healthcare treatment. You must first call the health department’s hotline on 080 928 4102 for guidance on the next steps. Do not visit someone who is sick. Rather find other ways to provide support, like delivering a meal to a neighbour’s doorstep.

In addition, 24 hour facilities have now extended their Covid-19 testing times from Monday to Friday.

Retreat Community Health Centre can therefore be accessed on weekends and public holidays from 10am to noon and after hours Monday to Friday from 4pm to 6pm.

Mr Mkhize said the festive season was time for us to relax and enjoy with families but residents now need to understand that they have a responsibility to enjoy with various restraints.

“If our enjoyment is going to lead to more people getting sick, getting admitted and even some losing lives, it is not a responsible way of enjoying ourselves. We need to prepare for a festive season with a difference.”