[imagesource: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma]
At present, the Western Cape accounts for roughly two-thirds of the total confirmed coronavirus cases, and deaths, in the country.
Some of the region’s hotspots remain major causes for concern, and it’s tough to really wrap one’s head around exactly how bad the situation could become.
According to News24, one projection shows that as many as 9 300 people in the province could die from COVID-19 in the next six months, which would surpass even New York state in terms of deaths per 100 000 residents.
If you’ve been seeing some of the heartbreaking stories coming out of New York, you’ll understand why doctors at hospitals around the province talk about preparing for the ‘horror’ to come.
The Western Cape’s data shows us that the province has tested twice as many people in hospitals as Gauteng, which is second on the list:
It has also recorded a higher number of people hospitalised overall – a clear sign that it is dealing with an epidemic several weeks ahead of the rest of the country.
On 8 May, there were 4 497 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Western Cape and 88 deaths. By Monday, 1 June, it was 22 567 cases, and 525 deaths – with 11 099 recoveries.
Gauteng, which is projected will have the highest number of cases by the end of the year, and the Eastern Cape both only reached the 4 000-case mark on Monday – roughly three weeks behind the Western Cape.
The debate, which will likely only be settled months from now, is whether the trajectory of the province will be repeated elsewhere in provinces that have had longer to prepare for the expected spike in infections, and longer to put in place effective contact tracing.
Whilst the exact reasons behind why the Western Cape is such an outlier remain unclear, most experts agree it is likely a combination of factors, including early seeding of the virus due to international visitors and some “super spreader” events.
That Western Cape projection of 9 300 deaths in six months was compiled by Dr Sheetal Silal, as part of the same group that was behind the prediction of between 40 000 and 48 000 deaths countrywide by November.
In response to confusion around the national testing backlog, the Department of Health has now clarified that the national backlog is 96 480 tests in public laboratories, with 18 000 of those from the Western Cape.
This News24 graphic, compiled by Rudi Louw, breaks the department’s data down by province:
With that backlog making tracing very difficult, and jeoparding healthcare workers in the province, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says adjustments have had to be made:
“As of last week, we had to change that approach… we have got to reserve tests for in our hospitals, for our healthcare professionals, but also to make a decision in a hospital as to whether [a] person must go to the Covid-19 ward or perhaps [just] get treatment for regular flu,” Winde said…
According to recommendations by the Western Cape government’s Department of Health, that means that Capetonians younger than 55, who also have no serious underlying medical conditions which may make them vulnerable, may no longer be tested for COVID-19.
You can read more about that here.
When you’re out and about this weekend, enjoying the 12-hour exercise window, you may want to bear some of the information above in mind.
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