Western Cape officially entering its third wave of Covid-19, says premier

Tanya Farber Senior science reporter
People queue for Covid-19 vaccinations in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. File photo.
People queue for Covid-19 vaccinations in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

The Western Cape is officially entering a third wave of Covid-19 infections.

The province has not quite passed the threshold of the technical definition, but premier  Alan Winde said on Thursday there had been a 31% increase in cases week on week.

“The Western Cape is now entering the third wave due to that sustained increase — and that is very concerning,” he said.

Provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete said more than 1,000 people were in Western Cape hospitals with Covid-19, more than 430 people were being diagnosed per day and five to six were dying.

“All districts in the province are on the increase, except for Khayelitsha,” said Cloete.

The province now had 5,800 active cases, including “more than 1,400 from last week alone ... and that is why we are officially announcing that we’re entering a third wave ... It’s because of this sustained acceleration over the last 10 days.”

Cloete said people’s behaviour would determine the trajectory of the infections curve and when the threshold into the third wave, as defined by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), would be crossed.

“The NICD has very clear objectives and measures for the whole country to determine which provinces are in the third wave, and we watch the same data with the same measures,” said Cloete.

“The data is now telling us very clearly that we are on an accelerated curve towards the mark of a third wave and it is a matter of time before we’re certified as such.”

Judging by data from the previous two waves, a third wave “would likely last for at least eight to 10 weeks”.

“It is important to note that many things can shift that, so a shift in behaviour can flatten and slow and make the third wave longer,” said Cloete.

The objective of flattening the curve, even if it made it longer, would be to relieve pressure on health facilities.

There have been more than 9,000 trauma cases in the past month, and such cases compete for beds in hospitals as Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalisation increase.

Cloete said just under half of the trauma cases resulted from interpersonal violence and were thus avoidable.

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