Wards in KZN, Eastern Cape need Covid-19 intervention: Municipal IQ

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The country's 269 municipal wards, which constitute 6% of the country's 4,393 wards, should receive prioritised attention from the government and stakeholders who are working to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Wards that have a high risk of contagion and high risk of potential death rates are predominantly in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where the demographics of poverty and old age conspire against inhabitants in the fight against Covid-19. Municipal IQ, a local government data and intelligence organisation, made this announcement on Wednesday.

In response to the threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to South African communities, Municipal IQ said it compiled two Covid-19 indices, which would be made available to any individual or group fighting the spread of Covid-19 in SA.

One index was to map the vulnerability to contagion, or spread of the disease by close contact (based on living standards by wards) and the other was to map possible death rates by ward (based on age and sex profiles of ward).

Kevin Allan, MD of Municipal IQ, said the wards with the highest risk of contagion were in KZN, the Eastern Cape, North West and Limpopo.

He said as would be expected, vulnerability to contagion overlapped very closely — but not absolutely — with poverty.

“As infection rates increase, identifying and targeting areas most susceptible to infection is critical for the optimal deployment of resources to contain the spread of the virus,” Allan said.

Municipal IQ said that in the main, areas of vulnerability to high contagion typically had more youthful populations and high possible death rates were typically not greatest in these otherwise high-risk communities. Karen Heese, economist at Municipal IQ, said projections of possible deaths were based on emerging trends around age and sex that appeared to be consistent around the world.

“There are numerous variables that are particular to SA — most worryingly the high incidence of HIV/Aids and TB, especially in wards where this might be untreated — that could change the impact of Covid-19 from our projections,” Heese said.

Municipal IQ said being able to identify South African wards with, first, the highest risk of infection and, second, the highest potential death rate, was an important step in the country's battle to mitigate against the potential devastation posed by the pandemic.

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