Mitigating a resurgence of COVID-19

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says government will look to parts of its COVID-19 Resurgence Action Plan when mitigating the risk of further increases in positive cases as a result of cluster outbreaks in Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

The plan includes heightened surveillance in areas where cluster outbreaks occur, further differentiating the approach to deal with such cases at a district and sub-district level. It also calls for the scaling up of resources in affected areas for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as well as for quarantine and isolation facilities.

According to Mkhize, a COVID-19 resurgence is defined as a 20% increase in the average incidence of COVID-19 cases using a seven-day moving average within a defined geographical area.

Parts of Eastern Cape and Western Cape are currently experiencing a notable spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, in some instances due to ‘super-spreader’ events such as college parties.

Mkhize on Sunday addressed a COVID-19 technical briefing where he outlined the latest developments in the country’s fight against COVID-19.

The minister is also expected to visit Eastern Cape later this week to assess the province’s readiness should a further surge in cases occur.

“The numbers started rising when we were in Level 4 (of the national lockdown), but even more when we were in Level 3; that’s when we experienced the surge from June to July. We did indicate that our predictions were that we were going to have a surge, but with lower numbers,” Mkhize said.

“We never ran out of beds, we never ran out oxygen, we never ran out of ICU beds or ventilators. The peak had given us up to 13,000 positive tests in a 24-hour period…But everything then went down until around the 30th of August. That plateau has gone on until the past two weeks. We went down to about 1000 cases per day but we started moving back to 2000 positive cases per day recently.

There is an indication of numbers increasing in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape. These areas are areas we are now watching as indicating increased activities…These two got into the first wave, went into a plateau, and are now showing new activity. We can’t yet say this is a new surge. We are observing these areas and it important for us to share with our fellow South Africans.”

South Africa was once ranked fifth globally for its cumulative number of COVID-19 cases, but has now dropped to the fifteenth spot.

“It’s important for us to keep a note that this pandemic is a very dynamic situation that keeps changing in different countries…It is important to adhere to Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (wearing masks, washing or sanitizing hands frequently, and practicing social distancing). We need sustained behavioural change,” Mkhize said.

“We can’t say the second wave has arrived. We are just seeing cluster activities increase positive cases in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape. It can still be contained and if it is contained, it can actually be pitted out.”

As of November 14, there was a cumulative total of 749,182 cases recorded in the country. A total of 20,206 people had succumbed to the virus and 92,5% of those infected had recovered.