Experts foresee rapid increase in COVID-19 infection in KZN

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Experts are warning that the number of COVID-19 infections will increase, as South Africa prepares to move to Level 3 of the national lockdown.

The Ilembe District in northern KwaZulu-Natal has been identified as one of the hotspots in the province along with eThekwini. As of Wednesday KZN had 2186 positive COVID-19 cases.

The country has a total of 25 937 infections, with the Western Cape having the highest number of infections and recoveries, followed by Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has described a hotspot as an area with more than five infected people per 100 000, or where new infections are increasing at a fast pace.

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Over 60 days into the nationwide lockdown in the KwaDukuza CBD, in KZN’s ILembe District it was business as usual on the busy streets. A majority of people who are out and about were not wearing masks. Some were not wearing them correctly, choosing to drape them over their chins and not over their nose and mouth.

Social distancing is barely practiced with many people standing around in groups.

Residents have also raised concerns that as schools reopen for grades 7 and 12 learners on Monday, the rate of infections will also increase in the area.

Meanwhile, public health medicine registrar at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), Dr Velile Ngidi, says ultimately, public behavior will determine whether the rate of infection increases or not.

Ngidi says, “The expectation is that as we reduce the level of lockdown and people movements are less restricted. We are expecting an increase in transmission but the hope is that people have had time to get used to non-pharmaceutical interventions like hand washing, hand sanitizers, physical distancing that is what we are relying on, human behavior that people do what they are supposed to be doing.”

The Health Department has introduced Mobile Testing Units to the Ilembe District to assist with fast-tracking the testing programme.

Lockdown level 3 will be regulated to limit COVID-19 infections: