Health Dept concerned over rise in COVID-19 infections in some provinces

The department said that over the past 14 days there'd been significant increases in the Free State, Gauteng, the Northern Cape and the North West.

Professional healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) attend to a patient inside the temporary ward dedicated to the treatment of possible COVID-19 coronavirus patients at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on 11 January 2021. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Health Department has expressed concerns over COVID-19 increases in some districts in the country.

The department said that over the past 14 days there'd been significant increases in the Free State, Gauteng, the Northern Cape and the North West.

Twenty-one districts in the country recorded a 20% increase in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks.

The department lauded the Eastern Cape for recording a 0% average change.

As of Thursday, there were 23,845 active cases in the country.

Departmental spokesperson Dr Lwazi Manzi: "We must continue to reinforce the message that we can all play a part to ensure that the rise in infections do not turn into a third wave. We all know what it takes to keep the coronavirus at bay - strict wearing of masks, sanitising and avoiding crowded gatherings."

Meanwhile, The Western Cape Health Department said that it was ready to kick off the second phase of the vaccination programme.

In 10 days time, the department will launch its mass vaccination programme in the province, starting with residents 60-years-old and older.

Premier Alan Winde said that government had launched the first part of their #letsdothis campaign that focused on registering elderly residents.

"Only around a quarter of those eligible, 60 years and above, are on the system thus far. We need to get every single person that's able to be vaccinated in our province registered on the system so that you can then be given where to be, what time, how this vaccine rollout will work."

Western Cape head of Health, Dr Keith Cloete, said that over 182,000 people over the age of 60 had registered - that's 24% of the population, with Cloete saying that there was still 76% to go.

"84% in the CApe Metro, 90% in the Cape Winelands, 27% in the Garden Route, Overberg is leading at this point in time - it's almost 40% of the people over 60 in the Overberg have already registered - West Coast is at 21% but a big concern is the central Karoo because we've only had 7%, so we will target central Karoo for a drive to increase the registration there."

He added that community health workers would also conduct their routine door-to-door activities to assist the elderly.

"We will also know in this week the WhatsApp modality and the USSD modality has been added to make it easier to assist over 60-year-olds to be able to register. We will also do a central process to be able to register people in complexes, so people at old age homes and care facilities."

Cloete said that cases, admissions and deaths remained largely stable but he was concerned that the average proportion positive increased above 5%.

Speaking about the third wave, Cloete said that preparations were in full swing.

"We anticipate that the third wave could potentially be lower than the second wave but it's dependant on the strength of our behaviour in the coming weeks. We're preparing for the third wave, it's in full swing. We've clearly identified which trigger points to make sure we bring capacity online."

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