As at Wednesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported 2 327 472 laboratory-confirmed cases nationwide, with 68 192 fatalities. File picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).
As at Wednesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported 2 327 472 laboratory-confirmed cases nationwide, with 68 192 fatalities. File picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

South Africa to soon reach 70 000 Covid-19 deaths

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jul 23, 2021

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Cape Town - The country is edging towards 70 000 Covid-19 deaths as the highly contagious Delta variant wreaks havoc, exacerbated by recent riots and taxi violence that have impacted on health services and vaccinations.

However, all provinces have shown an over 50% probability of having passed the peak of a third wave of Covid-19 infections, but there remains uncertainty as civil unrest and related service disruptions impact on testing and data integrity, as well as Covid-19 transmissions.

This was revealed by the provincial health department head, Dr Keith Cloete, during the weekly Covid-19 digicon, with Premier Alan Winde and Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.

As at Wednesday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported 2 327 472 laboratory-confirmed cases nationwide, with 68 192 fatalities.

The Western Cape has a 73% probability of having passed its peak, according to the assessment by the South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium.

“We’ve started to see some flattening in the number of Covid-19 cases, but still an increase in hospitalisations, although slowing, it is still increasing, and daily deaths are increasing - (which) normally lags,” said Cloete.

“We’ve seen a 3.2% increase in cases; that's significantly lower than the increase of cases last week. The proportion positive is still increasing; it is going up to about 40%. There is still the issue that testing has decreased. There are a range of factors - the taxi violence included - so we still have to watch and see.”

The province is seeing an average of 2 345 new Covid-19 cases, 330 hospitalisations, with around 82 reported deaths daily.

There are currently 32 725 active infections with around 3 010 patients admitted to hospital, of which 617 are in ICU.

Around 272 289 people are fully vaccinated. Around 68.13% of health-care workers have been vaccinated.

“We are encouraging more health-care workers to be vaccinated. We have targeted interventions: we want to reach 80% of health-care workers vaccinated,” said Cloete.

Vaccine efficacy is already evident in health-care workers, with fewer reported cases.

The Delta variant has been the overwhelmingly dominant variant in the Western Cape since mid-June onwards, said Cloete.

Premier Winde urged the public to remain vigilant and adhere to Covid-19 protocols as hospital admissions and Covid-19-related deaths increase.

“A marker for me is that we went over the 3 000-mark of citizens in our hospitals across both the public and private hospitals in the province. That is a significant milestone. Even though the numbers might be flattening, those numbers that are pushing up still are our hospitalisations, and we also see our deaths increasing.”

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo appealed to the public to protect health-care workers. This, as vaccine sites were affected in Gugulethu, KTC, Khayelitsha and Nyanga, as well as the mobile buses, which were disrupted by the taxi violence and unrest.

“We appeal to the people, that whatever happens, they need to provide a safe passage for the health-care workers. Whilst things are quiet, there might be smaller bushfires happening elsewhere. The evidence of that is what we can see at our health facilities in the emergency centres.”

Meanwhile, Communication Workers Union (CWU) general secretary Aubrey Tshabalala expressed concern over the number of Covid-19 infections reported within the SA Post Office (SAPO), and said the CWU were not satisfied with measures put in place to ensure the safety of staff.

“When a worker or workers get infected, there's no clear process of avoiding the spread of the infection. In some instances workers are told to evacuate and the employer disinfects or fumigates the area and workers are expected to return to their work stations. This has led to some getting affected by inhaling harmful chemicals. At the head office the majority of executives work from home, hence there's little empathy for workers.”

The SAPO was contacted for a comment, but did not respond.

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