NATIONAL NEWS - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has raised concerns after a number of districts within provinces had seen more than 20% average increase in cases over the past two weeks.
Addressing this in a statement released on Wednesday evening, Mkhize said there was a “worrying trend” in the rising cases, which has prompted the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to flag the districts as “under observation”.
“In the past two weeks, we have noticed a worrying trend of increasing numbers of detected cases in a number of districts. Free State, Gauteng, Northern Cape and North West are of particular concern but every province, with the notable exception of Eastern Cape, has at least one district of concern,” said Mkhize.
The minister highlighted that even though some of the districts had a low numbers of cases, the “significant rise in percentage changes should be taken as a serious warning”.
Here are the districts that has seen an average rise in the past 14 days:
- Free State — Mangaung Metro, Fezile Dabi, Xhariep and Lejweleputswa;
- Gauteng — City of Johannesburg Metro, Sedibeng, Ekurhuleni Metro, and City Of Tshwane Metro;
- KwaZulu-Natal — eThekwini Metro;
- Limpopo — Capricorn and Mopani;
- Mpumalanga — Nkangala and Gert Sibande;
- North West — Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati, Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Bojanala Platinum;
- Northern Cape — Pixley Ka Seme, ZF Mgcawu and Frances Baard; and
- Western Cape — Cape winelands and Overberg.
Mkhize, however, said every district in the Eastern Cape had recorded a zero percent average change, which he praised.
“This does not mean they are not getting new infections but it does mean they have maintained a plateau, which is very encouraging. This reinforces the message that we can all play our part to ensure that these rises in infections do not turn into a third wave.
“We all know what it takes to keep the coronavirus at bay — strict wearing of masks, sanitising and avoiding crowded gatherings. The government can facilitate and intervene but ultimately we would rather concentrate on economic recovery than imposing more restrictions. Therefore every citizen must adhere to the non-pharmaceutical interventions if we are to avoid further restrictions,” the minister said.
Speaking about the possible importation of the B.1.617 variant, circulating widely in India, Mkhize further said that there was “no need to panic”.
“Scientists around the world do not blame the devastating wave of Covid-19 on the variant alone but always observe that the lack of non-pharmaceutical interventions played a major role in the spread of the variant in [India]. Even though the B.1.351, prevalent in our country, has more mutations than the B.1.617, prevalent in India, we were still able to control the spread of B.1.351 in SA and bring the wave down to a plateau.
“Therefore, we have no need to panic about the B.1.617 because, as with any variant of the coronavirus, the treatment is the same and the way we prevent spread is the same,” he said.
This comes as several peoples’ samples were taken for testing – including the three people, who flew from India amid the resurgence of infections, that tested positive for Covid-19.
He added that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) was deliberating on the issue of border control.
“Final determinations will find expression in the cabinet and be communicated to the public accordingly,” he said.
Meanwhile, the cumulative number of detected Covid-19 cases currently stands 1,590,370 with 2,149 new cases identified.
63 more Covid-19 related deaths were reported, with 6 from Eastern Cape, 21 from Free State, 17 from Gauteng, 5 from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), 0 from Limpopo, 3 from Mpumalanga, 0 from North West, 5 from Northern Cape and 6 from Western Cape.
This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 54,620.
Recoveries now stand at 1,511,905 representing a recovery rate of 95%.
A total of 10,805,804 tests have been completed with 32,577 new tests conducted since the last report, while the total number of vaccines that have been administered stands at 366 101.