The Western Cape government says there has been a steady decline in COVID-19 infections and related deaths in recent days. Head of the Health Department, Dr. Keith Cloete, says the decline in numbers is mainly due to safety protocols.

The province currently has just under 3 000 COVID related deaths with over 75 000 recoveries.

Cloete was speaking during a virtual media briefing this afternoon.

While infections in some regions like the Southern Cape and the Central Karoo are on the increase, there’s s steady decline in the Cape Metro.

Cloete says they have planned early for sufficient hospital beds, ventilators, and oxygen masks.

“We had a peak about over 40% at one time. We are now declining to less than 30% in terms of test positivity rate, which means that one in three tests are positive. We have relatively more negative tests than it was previously.”

Economic impact of coronavirus 

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says he is concerned about the economic impact of lockdown regulations on residents. He says he is currently engaging with the national government to find a workable solution.

Winde says although there is a decline in the infection rate, unemployment and hunger are threatening livelihoods.  “

“We need to try and make sure that we find a balance. We need to make sure that more businesses can open. In that regard, I have now written a follow-up letter. I want an urgent meeting with Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who is responsible for the regulations as well as the health minister, so that we can have a discussion around the Western Cape economy.”

Safety protocols 

Provincial Health Minister, Nomafrench Mbombo, has again emphasised the importance of safety protocols.

“We need to protect the vulnerable; keep the physical distance wherever you are and also do not go anywhere unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. We urge the community that it’s an individual responsibility. It’s everyone’s responsibility to stop the spread.”

Cloete says the release of a scientific report recently shows that there were early cases of community transmissions that were reported in late February and early March preceding the early travel restrictions and lockdown.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation says people who test positive for coronavirus and display symptoms must spend at least 13 days in isolation.

Asymptomatic people need to isolate for ten days.

The WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove, says, “What we’ve recently done is use the data that I just described to give other recommendations that are not testing-based to say when someone can be released and is no longer infectious. So, what we recommend now is for symptomatic patients … they need to be isolated for at least 10 days from the time that they develop symptoms plus an additional three days after symptoms resolve. If you are asymptomatic it’s 10 days from the time you test positive.”