From the news desk

WC Health Dep: ‘It will become mandatory to wear a face mask’ amid lockdown

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Western Cape health authorities are concerned over the emergence of cluster transmissions of the coronavirus in the province, which has now become the epicentre of the virus in South Africa. The latest statistics from the National Health Department show South Africa now has 4,793 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The death toll in the country also increased to 90 after three patients succumbed to the coronavirus. More than 1,470 people have recovered from COVID-19 and the national recovery rate is now at 30%. The recovery rate in the Western Cape is 14%, with 35 patients who have succumbed to coronavirus. More than 178, 000 tests have been carried out over the past few weeks and the campaign is being ramped up in the coming days.

However, the head of Western Cape Health Department, Dr Keith Cloete said in the Western Cape they have faced some challenges.

“At times teams don’t feel safe when they go out to certain hot-spot areas and in certain instances they were mugged because there was no police presence but those are few and far between for the most part the community screening has happened without any glitches,” stated Cloete.

What this means for the Western Cape is that every community has identified a case of coronavirus. Last week, Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo, raised concern that supermarkets are becoming fertile breeding ground for COVID-19, after over 200 supermarket workers tested positive for the disease.

“When you leave your house, when you enter a supermarket or visit a police station, it is very likely that you will come into contact with a person that has Covid-19,” said Cloete.

Cloete explained that it is paramount to uphold lockdown regulations during this time.

“What that means is that Capetonians now have to be extra vigilant when they leave homes and enter a public space. You need to practice social distancing and you definitely need to wear a mask when you leave the home,” advised Cloete.

Cloete has stated that when the country enters level 4 of the lockdown regulations this Friday, it will become mandatory to don a face mask before leaving your place of residence, especially in the case of visiting places that have been identified as COVID-19 clusters.

“One of the reasons that the Western Cape has more cases is that clusters exist between people the clusters are in police stations, prisons, supermarkets and other places of work and we are working with these sectors and offering guidelines to help them contain the spread even further,” said Cloete.

Cloete explained that these essential workers go home in the evenings and that is how the community transmission happens. Subsequently, testing takes place in areas where the health department is aware that there are active coronavirus cases.

“We specifically test in areas where there are known cases, so we are able to keep an eye on the people that may or may not have come into contact with the infected person,” said Cloete.

Globally, more than three million people have been infected with the disease that’s claimed over 211,000 lives. So far, just over 922,000 patients have recovered. However, Cuba has reported just under 1 400 coronavirus cases and 56 deaths in under a month, since then the South American country has seen a gradual decline of cases.

Meanwhile, a team 217 medical health specialists from Cuba have arrived in SA to ramp up efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 but for local unemployed medics, this move has come as a slap in the face. However, Cloete has reiterated this decision was made by the President and National Government.

“This request for support comes specifically from the President and Health Minister Mkhize. They have approached several other countries too, China was one of them. We need additional hands on deck because we are expecting a surge of cases,” commented Cloete.


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