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Unpacking 5 'myths' about Covid-19 and the Western Cape

Western Cape premier Alan Winde says the province has been gearing up for a rising number of Covid-19 cases.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde says the province has been gearing up for a rising number of Covid-19 cases.
Image: Twitter/Alan Winde

• The province has a higher death rate than the norm

“The death rate is not higher in the Western Cape than it is elsewhere in the world and is likely to be the same rate countrywide [accurate reporting of data assumed],” said the province’s deputy spokesperson for health, Mark van der Heever.

The provincial death rate of 1.8% is now below four other provinces in SA but not Gauteng which is at 1.1%. The total deaths in the Western Cape by Friday was 137.

• The high number of deaths in the Western Cape is inexplicable

Roughly two-thirds of patients who died from Covid-19 in the province had more than two comorbidities — underlying health conditions such as TB, HIV and diabetes — which are known to increase the risk of dying.

Only 6% of known Covid-19 deaths had no comorbidities, said Van der Heever.

• The risk of catching the virus is greater in the Western Cape because of the high number of positive test results

The risk of infection may be greater in the Western Cape (or not) than other provinces, but the provincial testing strategy will yield a higher number of positive test results than mass screening.

The province is doing targeted testing for Covid-19 in known hotspots, where infected people live, and community transmissions are established.

“We therefore expect the number of laboratory confirmed Covid-19 cases to climb in our province,” said Van der Heever.

• The province — which has roughly two-thirds of the country’s cases — cannot afford to go to level 3 of the lockdown

Premier Alan Winde said on Friday that more than 200,000 jobs will be lost due to the lockdown restrictions, even at level 4 — warning of malnutrition, starvation, increased crime and premature deaths as a result.

Supporting the president’s initial decision for a hard lockdown in March, he said the province now needed to move to level 3 with the rest of the country.

• The provincial health department is not ready for level 3 lockdown given the high number of confirmed cases

The Western Cape had 7,586 confirmed cases by Friday, 2,857 of which had recovered.

The province has used the lockdown to get additional temporary hospitals ready, buy  necessary stock and recruit volunteers to assist health care professionals, said Winde.

The province had secured, or ordered, the following supplies three weeks ago:

  • N95 respirators: 70,000 on hand and 2.9 million on order
  • Surgical masks: 2 million on hand and 7 million on order
  • Personal protective equipment kits: 4,000 on hand and 50,000 on order
  • Gowns: 50,000 on hand and 190,000 on order
  • Ventilators: 432 on hand and 100 on order

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