Limpopo 'paying the price of social gatherings' as Covid-19 cases rocket

There is concern at the rapid increase in Covid-19 infections in Limpopo. File photo.
There is concern at the rapid increase in Covid-19 infections in Limpopo. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Limpopo's health department has expressed concern about the alarming number of people who are getting infected with Covid-19 in the province.

Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba said on Thursday that at one point in December, the province was recording just 20 new cases a day, but that had significantly increased to 1,575 new infections a day on Wednesday.

“This is the highest ever figure to be recorded in a reporting cycle in the province since the first case of Covid-19. This is a sharp increase from 900 over the previous cycle,” she said.

Ramathuba said the Capricorn district recorded the highest number of infections — with 623 reported on Wednesday alone.

“Polokwane municipality remain on high alert. Vhembe district has also seen a sharp increase with 408 new cases, Thulamela municipality being a focus point, followed by Mopani district with 253 new cases. Greater Tzaneen remains on high alert in the district.

“Though Waterberg district was leading in the province at some point, their numbers are no longer increasing at an alarming rate. The district has recorded 189 new cases,” Ramathuba said.

“This is also the case with Sekhukhune district which has recorded only 98 new cases. However, the department will be watching the two districts closely, which are mining hubs, as the mines will be resuming with activities.”

Ramathuba said the alarming numbers suggested that people were no longer following  safety guidelines to avoid contracting the virus.

She said the province was now bearing the brunt after people let their guards down during the festive season.

“We are now paying the price of social gatherings, Christmas parties and luncheons, weddings and birthday parties which we have seen during December. We have advised that any kind of gathering during the [festive season] was a bad idea, also considering that we have people who came from other provinces coming home to attend those gatherings,” she said.

Ramathuba called for behavioural change.

Limpopo's health system, however, was not yet in the danger zone when it came to admitting Covid-19 patients.  

“Though we are seeing a huge number of people coming to our hospitals due to Covid-19, our hospitals still have enough beds for patients who need admission due to the virus,” Ramathuba said.

Private health care group Netcare said on Wednesday there was “unprecedented demand” for hospitalisation at its facility in Polokwane, Netcare Pholoso Hospital.

Netcare Group CEO Richard Friedland said the hospital was more than 100% occupied.

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