Gauteng Premier David Makhura has said that despite the province’s recovery rate being a “positive story”, now at 70%, now was not the time to be complacent, with the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic expected towards the end of August and in September.
During the weekly update of the provincial coronavirus command council (PCCC) on Friday, Makhura said it was important to see the graph of active cases of Covid-19 flattening, while that of recoveries goes up.
During the June, July period, recoveries in the province were at 30%, a drop from the 60% during the April, May period, Makhura said, adding that it is “comforting” that the recovery rate, as of this week, sits at 70%.
Active cases in the province are at 29%, a drop from 65% during the June, July period, Makhura said, adding that fatalities due to the disease are just above 1%.
He said with regards to fatalities, the province went through a difficult period in the last two months when “a lot of people” succumbed to the disease on a daily basis.
Hospital admissions, at some point, were “bursting at the seams” in Gauteng, Makhura said, however, these are “getting better now”, he added.
Some Covid-19 hotspots in the province are recording a decline in the number of cases, while others are still “running their course”, Makhura said.
The number of daily cases now averages 2,000, around 1,765, Makhura said, a decline from the June, July period which recorded numbers varying from 5,000, to above 6,000 at some point. He added that, overall, the number of daily infections is going down.
Makhura cautioned that though it appears as if the surge is easing, it would not be correct to say that the peak has passed, “it may have been the first wave of the peak, we may still go through the toughest time of the peak”.
Wearing of masks, social distancing, which includes staying at home, avoiding parties, marches and funerals, was still important though the number of infections is declining, Makhura said.
“We still have to work very, very hard,” he said.
Gauteng’s epicentre is Johannesburg with 76,297 cases and 15,548 active cases, Makhura said, however, 59,779 recoveries have been recorded and close to 970 people have succumbed to the disease, he added.
Ekurhuleni has 41,000 active cases, he said.
Sedibeng and the West Rand have more or less the same number of confirmed cases at around 12,000 each, Makhura said, adding that the mining area in the West Rand was where more cases were recorded and in Sedibeng the “key townships” drove up the increases.
Soweto is now the subdistrict with the largest number of confirmed cases, Makhura said, and focus would now be directed there, he added.
Areas in Soweto which have the highest number of confirmed cases include Dobsonville, Doornkop and Protea Glen, Makhura said.
The Tshwane CBD, Atteridgeville, Laudium and Pretoria North have the highest numbers in that part of Gauteng, the premier said.
Of those who have succumbed to Covid-19 in the province, 55% were males, 45% females and 65% of the fatalities were people in the age group above 50 going to 79 years of age, he said.
He added that 11% of fatalities were in the 40 to 49 age group, while people in the 33 to 39 age group accounted for 4.5%.
During the June, July period, a lot of young people in the age group 20 to 29, tested positive for Covid-19 in the province, the larger chunk of this group being women, Makhura said, adding that scientists are still studying the data to determine why women had been the most infected.
The premier said 316 people admitted to hospital were on ventilation.
He said 5,242 public servants have tested positive for Covid-19, however, a lot of them have recovered, he added.
Healthcare workers were severely impacted in terms of infections, however, many have since recovered, Makhura said, further conveying condolences to the families of those who had died due to the disease.
Though the Special Investigating Unit probe into allegations of corruption in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the province is underway, it was critical to ensure that the stock of quality PPE does not run out and that the equipment is procured and supplied in accordance with regulations, Makhura said.
“We do want to make sure there is enough PPE as we are preparing for the peak,” Makhura said, adding that the “rogue ad corrupt elements” implicated in corruption in the procurement of PPE would not deter the provincial government’s focus on ensuring there is adequate stock for the “troops on the ground” who are fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
The premier said the probe into the corruption around the procurement of PPE would have to ensure that lost money is immediately recovered and that service providers who were irregularly appointed, as well as officials implicated in corruption, are dealt with accordingly.
“We want to make sure that any official or any company that is found to be involved in these acts of corruption face full consequences,” Makhura said, adding that talking needs to come to an end and action needs to be taken, with those implicated sent to jail.
It is important to ensure that cases are watertight so that implicated parties are successfully prosecuted, Makhura said.