NATIONAL NEWS - Earlier today, I held my weekly digicon where we outlined the work that we are doing on the Garden Route to manage COVID-19, which has spiked considerably in the region in recent weeks.
Over the past four weeks, we have noted a consistent increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 on the Garden Route. We have also started to see hospital admissions begin to Increase, with deaths now starting to show early signs of an increase in the Garden Route.
Cases have increased especially in George, Knysna, Thembalethu, Plettenberg Bay, Pacaltsdorp and Mossel Bay.
As of yesterday, active cases per 100 000 people stood at:
- Hessequa 43
- Mossel Bay 229
- George 319
- Knysna 347
- Bitou 282
- Oudtshoorn 60
There are currently 159 people hospitalised in the region in both private and public care, and 26 in critical care.
- Hessequa: 3
- Mossel Bay: 30 with 4 in critical care
- George: 75 with 16 in critical care
- Knysna/Bitou: 34
- Oudtshoorn: 17 and 2 in critical care
Our teams in the Garden Route are working hard to manage the outbreak, through community screening, increased testing, contact tracing and communications campaigns. We need residents to support these efforts by taking simple safety precautions.
I am also deeply concerned that over 760 people in the province are now hospitalised with Covid19, having reached a low of under 500 in September.
Last month, I asked the people of this province to commit to a deal: the provincial government will continue to work hard on our recovery plan and to win back those jobs that have been lost. In return, we ask only that our citizens stay safe and flatten the curve.
The Western Cape Department of Health questionnaire asks people who have tested positive for the virus where they think they got it from in a bid to track trends and clusters. 77% did not know where they had got it from, but of the 23% who did, the majority (42%) said they had contracted it at a social event or from a friend, and 35% said at home or from a family member.
This points to the fact that social gatherings are the most likely cause of infection. With the festive season approaching, we must ensure that we make the safe choices that will protect ourselves and our families.
We know that over the next few weeks, people will be moving around more- traveling across the province and between provinces for the festive season, holding end of year parties, spending time with family over Christmas, and celebrating the New Year. We will also be closely monitoring events like Matric Rage, which is traditionally held on the Garden Route, and which is a major drawcard for thousands of matrics looking to celebrate the end of their school career.
The Garden Route hotspot team and the Department of Health will be looking to ensure that events are compliant with regulations and safety protocols.
While the Garden Route is a provincial hotspot right now, we are seeing small increases in cases in other areas across the province as well and we should all be taking precautions.
In the next week, we will also see a number of Black Friday sales, which have the potential to attract large crowds or become a super-spreader event unless carefully handled and managed. We know that many residents face extreme economic pressure at the moment, and the prospect of large savings is compelling. We also know that many retailers and businesses have had a tough year and will be looking to maximise their sales.
We therefore call on retailers to put in place measures that assist in managing crowds- either by extending the number of days that the discounts are available and trading hours, and by conducting sales online. Shoppers are requested to wear their masks, sanitise their hands and keep their distance to minimise their risk of contracting Covid-19.
Over the next few days, the Department of Economic Development will be meeting with major retailers, and the property management companies for the major shopping centres, to discuss risk management strategies, as well as the consequences of non-compliance of the Covid-19 safety measures.
We appeal to residents to take precautions to keep safe by simply complying with the five golden rules of hygiene, and avoiding the 3 Cs: crowded places, confined spaces and close contact. We also appeal to businesses to comply with the regulations, and to ensure that they have systems in place to protect their staff and their customers.
Until a vaccine is widely available, we must act responsibly so that we can protect the vulnerable, stay safe and move forward.
Update on the coronavirus in the Garden Route
As of 13:00 on Thursday 19 November, the Western Cape has 4 901 active Covid-19 infections with a total of 122 322 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 112 920 recoveries.
The Western Cape has recorded additional 15 deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the province to 4 486. We send our condolences to their loved ones at this time.
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