Grade 7 pupils being screened as they arrive at school. File Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Grade 7 pupils being screened as they arrive at school. File Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

KZN in the grip of third Covid-19 wave

By Sibusiso Mboto Time of article published Aug 16, 2021

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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL is now experiencing the third wave of Covid-19 infections.

This is evident from an alarming rise of cases reported over recent days across the province, especially in schools which, in some instances, have had to close to allow for disinfection.

KZN has experienced an increase in cluster cases, with schools emerging as the biggest contributor with more than 120 reporting clusters in their school settings, affecting more than 800 pupils and teachers in the process.

And while the province has sufficient bed space in hospitals and oxygen supply at its disposal, there is a danger that individual behaviour, especially in social circles, could result in a higher infection rate that would place additional pressure on the health-care system.

This is according to Premier Sihle Zikalala, who in a media briefing yesterday indicated that KZN remains the third highest in terms of laboratory-confirmed cases, contributing 16% or 427 908 of the cases countrywide.

KZN was recording 2 518 cases per day, and in the past week the province observed a 31% increase in the number of new cases (4 641 cases), with eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, Ilembe, King Cetshwayo and Zululand observing a steep increase in cases.

“It is with a deep sense of concern that we confirm that, as a province, we have been reliably advised by medical experts that we are now well and truly in the third wave of Covid-19.

“The province has for the past three consecutive days recorded more than 3 000 new cases, and is reporting the second-highest number of daily confirmed cases,” he said.

The rapid spread of infections, he added, had been driven by, among other factors:

The recent large gatherings of people engaging in looting and the destruction of property.

An increase in interprovincial travel. Large gatherings at pubs and restaurants.

“In the latest 24-hour reporting cycle,” the premier added, “our province has registered a total of 3 445 confirmed Covid-19 cases, which has pushed the total number of cases to 427 908.”

KZN has 40 703 active cases of Covid-19 and has registered 12 535 deaths overall due to the pandemic. In addition, 373 806 have recovered.

Zikalala urged the public to go to their nearest health facilities if they were feeling ill, in order to reduce the number of home deaths and patients dying on arrival at health-care facilities.

The KZN chief executive of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, Thirona Moodley, said Naptosa was saddened by the death of two pupils due to Covid-19.

“We have not previously seen such high learner infections. The experts did indicate that the Delta variant is more transmissible and we are seeing this in the infections in schools.

“We are also getting reports of teacher infections. Infections in schools result in learners in isolation or in quarantine. This results in learning losses and breaks the continuity of schooling. The stop-start schooling is disruptive and time lost cannot be made up.”

National Teachers Union (Natu) said the rise of infections demonstrated that government had rushed the opening of schools without ensuring that schools were adequately equipped to deal with the large numbers of pupils returning to school at once. “We should place the lives of learners above everything else, because while efforts can be made to recover lost time, a life lost can never be recovered,” said Natu’s Sibusiso Malinga.

Attempts to get comment from Sadtu were unsuccessful.

THE MERCURY

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