Daily Covid-19 update: Gauteng’s surge is here, says Health department

Picture for illustration purposes. Students at Kenyatta University have been working ventilators, one of the ways African scientists are looking at homegrown virus solutions. AFP/SIMON MAINA

1,567,084 tests have been completed in total, of which 38,075 new tests are reported as Gauteng gears up to experience a surge in new cases.

With the winter months approaching, the health department is warning of a surge in Covid-19 cases, especially in metropolitan areas such as Gauteng.

As of Sunday, 28 June 2020, the cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa is 138,134. A further 43 Covid-19 related deaths have been recorded, which brings the total deaths to 2,456.

1,567,084 tests have been completed in total, of which 38,075 new tests are reported. The number of recoveries is 68,925.

In a statement on Sunday evening, the department said: “We believe that within the coming days, Gauteng will emerge with the highest Covid-19 numbers. Factors contributing to this trend are inward migration; the large population (especially in metros like Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane); increased congregating which spurs cluster outbreaks; and the level to which people are able to adapt to new behaviours such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.”

It is it “anticipated that while every province will unfortunately witness an increase in their numbers, areas where there is high economic activity will experience an exponential rise – beginning with Gauteng and Western Cape and followed by Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal”.

Gauteng infections over time.

The statement indicated that the reduction to level 3 meant that a large number of people moved towards high density population centres as economic activities resumed.

This surge of human movement also brought with it a high rate on infections: “It was therefore inevitable that there would be cluster outbreaks as infections spilled over from communities into places of congregation such as mines, factories, taxis and busses,” the statement read.

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As a result, screening would remain a major priority, the department said, adding that hospital beds beds would be increased to accommodate the expected demand.

“In the next few days, the testing backlog will be cleared and the numbers we see will be based on a much shorter turnaround time.”

There was also a dire warning about the infection rates being experienced in the Eastern Cape: “As in other provinces, carriers of the Coronavirus seed infection into spaces where people congregate and so we have also seen a number of cluster outbreaks in Eastern Cape.”

Because of posts on social media regarding the lack of availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the province, the statement added that the department wishes to “reassure the public that complaints on social media regarding treatment in some of the hospitals, as well as overall public health issues described in the media, have been well noted.

“We therefore need to emphasise the strengthening of the provincial health system in its entirety. We had initially deployed a team of epidemiologists from the National Department of Health who intervened on an emergency basis to focus on the bottleneck in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) procurement and the immediate outbreak response.”

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