Winde to consult Ramaphosa over Mkhize's lockdown comments

Western Cape premier Alan Winde working from his home. On Tuesday he issued a press release confirming that Covid-19 deaths in the province had risen to 357.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde working from his home. On Tuesday he issued a press release confirming that Covid-19 deaths in the province had risen to 357.
Image: Twitter/Alan Winde

The Covid-19 death toll in the Western Cape reached 357 on Tuesday, after the province recorded another 39 deaths since Monday.

The total number of recorded cases in the province stood at 15,756 - with 7,555 of these recorded as active cases, while 7,844 people have recovered. Covid-19 hospitalisations stood at 665, with 178 of these people being treated in ICU or high care units.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde extended his condolences to the families of the deceased in a press release on Tuesday evening.

He also said he would seek clarity from national health minister Zweli Mkhize, who in a presentation to the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday indicated that some hotspots could remain under a level 4 lockdown, while the rest of the country moved to level 3 on June 1.

Winde said it was already anticipated that jobs in the province had been lost since the national lockdown started on 26 March. Prolonging level 4 any further would result in an ever greater need for humanitarian relief.

“I will seek clarity from the president on this matter as he was very clear in his address on Sunday that the whole country would move to level 3, with the hotspots being re-evaluated every two weeks,” he said.

“The province has not received any direct indication from national government that this was not the case.”

Enforcing varying lockdown levels between different areas within a province would be difficult, he said.

“Neighbouring towns could find themselves in different alert levels, complicating matters for people commuting for work.

“It could also result in people breaking the rules to go to areas where the alert level is lower. It would require significant policing resources to enforce, and this should rather be used on ensuring physical distancing and implementing the response strategy in specific hotspots.”

Western Cape Covid-19 stats as of Tuesday May 26.
Western Cape Covid-19 stats as of Tuesday May 26.
Image: Western Cape Government

Lockdown regulations have hit the province’s wine producing, agricultural and tourism districts especially hard, which Winde said would further exacerbate the “humanitarian disaster that has resulted from the lockdown”.

“This should be taken seriously because it will cost lives in the future, too. That's why we support the president’s decision on Sunday that the entire country move to level 3, in conjunction with the targeted hotspot strategy,” he said.

“This is what we presented to both the president and minister Mkhize, and we look forward to working with all levels of government in implementing it.”

Cape Town has most of the cases in the Western Cape, at 13,747 - with 7,160 of those people having recovered.

The hotspots in Cape Town are the Tygerberg district with 2,400 cases and Khayelitsha with 2,000. Drakenstein municipality in the Cape Winelands has recorded 350 cases, while Witzenberg follows with 230.

So far 128,558 tests have been conducted in the province.

Uber partnership

To mitigate the chances of exposure to residents who suffer from chronic diseases, Winde said the province was partnering with e-hailing service Uber to deliver chronic medication to thousands around the province.

“So far over 132,000 chronic medicine parcels have been delivered by community health workers across the province, in a partnership with Uber,” he said.

“This was part of our strategy to ensure that people, especially those with underlying illnesses, are able to stay at home, while at the same time reducing the number of people visiting our healthcare facilities to allow for social distancing.”

The premier said a further 278,282 patient medicine parcels had been issued by the health department’s chronic dispensary unit, which were pre-packed and delivered to facilities and alternate collection sites to be collected at scheduled dates.

“Our focus in the healthcare space is on protecting the vulnerable, such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions. By ensuring that a large number of these people do not need to go out to collect medication at a healthcare facility on a monthly basis, we are able to reduce their risk of becoming infected.”