The Western Cape provincial government has said it is actively preparing for a resurgence of COVID cases while three other provinces have now declared they are in a third wave.
The province’s premier Alan Winde said in a statement on Sunday that based on current trajectories, the province is likely to officially enter its third wave two to three weeks from now.
Gauteng premier David Makhura confirmed that his province officially entered into a third wave more than a week ago. This was followed by similar declarations in the Free State and the Eastern Cape.
“The Western Cape is currently facing a resurgence as it has seen increases in its case numbers every day, over the past 12 days. While this is not yet a third wave, it is the first sign that we are moving towards one,” Winde said.
“Our guiding principle remains that no person will be denied access to life-saving medical treatment. We must make sure we have enough beds, staff and oxygen to respond effectively in the month ahead.”
He added that in the meantime South Africans should continue to follow the level 1 lockdown restrictions, adhering to social distancing and avoid social gatherings to help flatten this curve. But health experts have warned that the rise in cases could require further lockdown restrictions.
Head of the Western Cape Health Department Dr Keith Cloete told EWN that it is a national competency to put lockdown restrictions in place, but they are highly likely to appear given that the number of cases is on the increase countrywide.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has likewise warned of likely additional restrictions in South Africa due to rising COVID numbers.
He said that the government has discussed the rising numbers. “At some point we are going to have to start looking at additional restrictions,” he said.
“We are going to be recommending that there should be more focus on the size of gatherings, and look at the focus on some of the measures that were actually released when we thought the situation was much more improved.”
He highlighted the importance of trying to maintain a balance to ensure that people continue to be able to work. “We do need to send a strong message still, that people can’t be complacent.”
As of 23 May, there were 2894 new cases in South Africa and the COVID test positive rate stood at 9.86%. Data collected up to 15 May showed the highest positive rate was in the Northern Cape (24.1%), Free State (17.5%) and North West (15.1%) provinces. The percentage testing positive was <10% in all other provinces. (Source: NICD PDF, note this is a 10 MB size)