KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has warned about cluster Covid-19 outbreaks following the death of six nuns at a convent in the Ugu district and 48 infections resulting from a protest attended by more than 2 000 people at KwaSizabantu (KSB).
Zikalala briefed the media on the province’s latest Covid-19 figures and festive season plans on Sunday.
“The province has recorded a number of clusters in healthcare settings, church gatherings, retail shops, funerals, ceremonies and parties. The recent cluster outbreaks in gatherings have proven to be fatal, such as a church gathering that took place in Assisi Convent in Ugu District, which saw six nuns sadly succumb to Covid-19.
“Another gathering was at KwaSizabantu in Umzinyathi district, which was attended by more than 2 000 people! And I repeat 2 000 people. It is unthinkable,” he said.
The premier’s office later clarified that the gathering the premier had referred to in his speech was protest action, which took place last week at KSB.
“Please note that the statement doesn’t suggest this to be a gathering organised by the mission, but it was a gathering (a protest of people demanding to be employed at the mission). That cluster of people is becoming a super-spreader.”
The event at KwaSizabantu resulted in 48 people testing positive so far, with the premier saying it was hardly surprising.
The premier also expressed concern over the increase in home deaths.
“On Thursday, 17 December 2020, the province received 22 home deaths. This means that the province now has 142 (or 3%) of deaths that occurred at home since the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.
The death rate, Zikalala said, is at 32 deaths per 100 000 of the population, with the eThekwini District the highest – at 46 deaths per 100 000.
“We are concerned at the fact that the province is experiencing an increase in the number of Covid-19 related deaths reported daily. The actual number of deaths, which occurred during week 50, was 68 and, for week 51, it was 111. We must hasten to add that these are cumulative numbers, not numbers reported on a single day,” said Zikalala.
Of the infected, 7 891 are healthcare workers.
“The majority of the infected healthcare workers were nurses (56%). The number of infected healthcare workers has increased by 449 (or 6%) in the past seven days,” said Zikalala.
Zikalala said the province was prepared for the second wave and had cancelled all major events as a precaution.
“We also want to dispel the notion that our healthcare facilities are beginning to succumb. Yes, the healthcare facilities are experiencing high demand, but the system has not collapsed due to pressure. It is up to all of us to ensure that we do not get to that stage,” he said.
Meanwhile, the province has also been clamping down on festive season activities and alcohol sales.
“To date, we have undertaken a total of 44 joint law enforcement operations with SAPS and the Liquor Authority in KZN. During this time, 24 liquor licences were suspended, while 13 more suspensions are in the process of being finalised,” said Zikalala.