KwaZulu-Natal government officials say there are worrying signs that the province is on the verge of entering a third wave of COVID-19, with infections rising sharply.
They’ve urged the public to be extra-vigilant and observe COVID-19 protocols. This was announced by Premier Sihle Zikalala while addressing the media on COVID-19 status in the province.
Zikalala urges South Africans to behave responsibly as some provinces are already battling the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic:
KwaZulu-Natal has not yet reached weekly increases in COVID-19 infections that trigger an alert level of the third wave. Only one district, Amajuba is slowly reaching the alert level line.
However, officials have raised the red flag, cautioning people not to organise super-spreader events and to observe safety protocols to protect themselves from the life-threatening disease.
The province has recorded over 340 000 infections. It has the second-highest number of deaths in the country with over 10 500.
Premier Zikalala has stressed the importance of accelerating the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the province, as South Africa faces a potential third wave.
He has outlined some plans to curb any third wave in KwaZulu-Natal. “In terms of emergency early warnings, a 10% increase in cases over a 7-day and a 20% increase in cases will trigger a resurgence which may indicate that we are entering the third wave of COVID-19 infections. Our strategy to deal with a potential third wave stands on the following pillars, testing all COVID- 19 suspected pillars, isolation of confirmed cases, monitoring of those who are self-isolating, tracing all contacts, dedicating beds for quarantine as well as ICU, ensuring oxygen availability, accelerating vaccination, so this is the totality of the plan to curb the third wave.”
The government recently announced the move to an adjusted Alert Level 2 lockdown amidst fears of a potential third wave in the coming weeks.
Zikalala says he is concerned about the rate of increase of coronavirus cases in the province. He says the rise in infections in the Amajuba district is of great concern.
“The province of KwaZulu-Natal continues to observe an increase in the number of new cases recorded weekly and that is very concerning. The overall percentage change in the number of new cases between week 21 and week 22 was 24%. The actual number of new cases was 726 for week 21 and 900 for week 22 respectively. Amajuba District is the only district that has reached the alert line.”
He adds that they are also concerned about the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases at some schools in the province, encouraging people to wear masks, social distancing, and regular handwashing to combat the rise in infections at schools.
“We are also concerned by a few schools which have reported a high number of infections within a space of a few days. For example, on Friday, the 4th of June one school under uMzinyathi reported 16 positive cases of learners, another school under the uThukela District reported 15 positive cases of learners. The Department of Education will continue to implement COVID-19 protocols and to provide necessary PPE’s.” -Additional reporting by Nonhlakanipho Magwaza