The Western Cape is likely to reach its peak of COVID-19 cases earlier than other provinces.
The province’s prime minister, Alan Winde, believes the number of Covid 19 infections could peak in July.
Dr. Keith Cloete, head of the Western Cape Department of Health, said last week that the coronavirus had probably spread to communities earlier than they initially thought.
“That’s why we have more cases now,” Cloete explained.
By Friday, the Western Cape had 64% of South Africa’s total confirmed COVID cases (12,888 out of 20,125). A total of 64.7% (257 out of 397) of the country’s deaths were also reported here.
Cloete says the death rate is comparable to other provinces.
The national average is 1.7% of confirmed COVID cases, while it is 1.6% in the Western Cape.
According to prof. Salim Abdool Karim, the government’s chief adviser on COVID-19, has two reasons why the Western Cape is seeing a dramatic increase in infections earlier than other provinces.
First is because the province had more tourists from countries with a high prevalence of COVID-19 and secondly because of “super-distributors”.
The distribution in two supermarkets and a pharmaceutical factory by so-called super-distributors quickly brought major focal points.
“It’s actually about a small number of so-called super-distributors,” Karim told The Washington Post .
“Too many people have gone to supermarkets, and the right procedures have not yet been set. It only takes one person to infect everything – the baskets, the metal surfaces – by just breathing.
“It’s not like HIV is slowly transmitted from one person to another. An infected area causes an outbreak as simple as that. And sometimes you only see the flames when it’s a big fire. “
Karim added that focal points would increase across the country.
Cloete says the Western Cape’s test strategy also contributes to the province’s large Covid-19 numbers. Since early April, the Western Cape has been implementing a “test and search strategy” that focuses on certain focal points. With this model, the health department is trying to determine a specific area’s distribution rate and then curb the distribution.
Between 4 and 10 May, 12.1% of Western Cape’s tests were positive, with 1% of tests being positive in Gauteng.
Cloete says “other provinces will now start following what we did three or four weeks ago”.
According to a consortium of the health department led by dr. Harry Moultrie, a senior medical epidemiologist at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NIOS), points to the government’s current projections at a peak of about 180,000 cases for the Western Cape by July.
The same projections predict that a province like Gauteng could have 400,000 cases at the same time.
According to prof. Marc Mendelson, head of communicable diseases and HIV medicine at Groote Schuur Hospital, is clear that there is a connection between where the Western Cape is testing and where most cases are reported. “If you screen for symptoms and test for burns, you’ll find more (positive cases),” Mendelson told The Washington Post .
Dr. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday presented a focus to the Western Cape’s focus on focal points in a presentation to the national Covid 19 command council as a way to curb cluster outbreaks.