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Western Cape farming town emerges as Covid-19 hotspot with 100 cases

Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo joined Covid-19 screening efforts on Tuesday in Ceres, where the Witzenberg municipality has 100 confirmed cases.
Western Cape health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo joined Covid-19 screening efforts on Tuesday in Ceres, where the Witzenberg municipality has 100 confirmed cases.
Image: eNCA

The number of people with Covid-19 in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha has grown by almost 250% in the past week.

In his daily bulletin on Tuesday, Western Cape premier Alan Winde said Khayelitsha had 205 cases at 5pm on Monday — up 247% on a week earlier and 30% in the past 24 hours.

Overall, the Western Cape has 1,778 confirmed cases — up 4.6% in the past 24 hours.

Two more deaths have brought the fatalities to 35.

Winde said the latest patients to die were men aged 79 and 58. Both had comorbidities.

The number of patients reported to have recovered leapt from 249 a day earlier to 607.

“As of today, the Western Cape has switched to an automated reporting of recoveries, which does not depend on the manual recording of each patient’s recovery,” said Winde.

Active cases stand at 1,136, of which 83 patients are in hospital, including 28 in intensive care.

Explaining the Western Cape's growing number of cases compared with Gauteng — which reported 1,353 cases on Tuesday — and other provinces, Winde said the province “has identified clusters or 'hotspots' and has acted swiftly to screen and test around these hotspots, which has resulted in a higher proportion of positive tests”.

One of the hotspots was the Witzenberg municipality, based in Ceres, which has reported 100 cases — five times as many as any other municipality in the province, apart from the Cape Town.

“We have been concentrating our screening and contact tracing efforts in this area since the first cluster of cases emerged to make sure that we identify every single person with Covid-19,” said Winde. “Every resident of Witzenberg has an important role to play in helping us stop the spread. It is essential that you stay home.

“Witzenberg is a rural area with a large community of seasonal farm workers. While we understand that many may be making plans to return home at this time of year, we urge them not to. At this time, it is best that they stay in the Western Cape and avoid travelling to other provinces.”

Winde said he and Western Cape police commissioner Brig-Gen Yolisa Matakata met Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane on Tuesday to discuss taxis travelling to funerals and the movement of seasonal farmworkers between provinces.

“We must be sensitive to the fact that many Western Cape residents may want to return to the Eastern Cape for funerals, and this is allowed under the regulations,” he said.

“However, we are aware that there are instances of criminality and the use of fraudulent or fake death certificates. Between us, we were able to map the way forward, which includes joint operations by both provinces.”


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