South Africa should brace itself for a surge in COVID-19 cases in line with what the Western Cape is currently experiencing.
This is according to a report in the City Press, citing epidemiologists and experts in infectious diseases and vaccinology.
Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand, told City Press the Eastern Cape will be where the Western Cape is now, in two weeks’ time.
He said Gauteng will be there in four weeks’ time, and the Western Cape will be three times worse than now next month.
KwaZulu-Natal has also seen a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, which the province’s health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu is not unexpected.
She said the province is prepared for the sharp rise in coronavirus cases and has recruited 8,000 new healthcare workers. Many facilities have also been repurposed as field hospitals.
Madhi and others warned there will be a rapid increase in cases if people do not adhere to interventions like social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands frequently.
This echoes a recent call from President Cyril Ramaphosa that the “new phase” of the lockdown relies on individual behaviour and basic hygienic practices.
“It relies on social distancing measures, sanitisation and strict hygienic practices in all places where people congregate,” Ramaphosa added.
It will not be as bad as predicted – PANDA
Pandemics, Data, and Analytics (PANDA) coordinator Nick Hudson has said the Western Cape’s COVID-19 data is in line with what is seen elsewhere in the world.
He agreed, however, other provinces are a bit behind the Western Cape in terms of COVID-19 infections and deaths.
“There is nothing to suggest anything unusual is happening in South Africa. The Western Cape is a little bit earlier and will possibly end off being a little bit worse,” said Hudson.
Hudson said their models predict the Western Cape’s infections and deaths will peak relatively soon.
He expects other provinces like the Eastern Cape and Gauteng to follow a similar trend to the Western Cape.
While the rest of the country is likely to see a rapid increase in cases similar to the Western Cape, PANDA said it will not be as bad as predicted.
Hudson said their estimates for the number of expected deaths in South Africa is far lower than the official estimate of 40,000.
He said their modelling shows South Africa will have around 18,000 deaths based on the age distribution in the country.
Latest COVID-19 stats for South Africa and the Western Cape
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced last night that South Africa has recorded 45,973 COVID-19 cases, with 2,539 of these cases reported in the last 24 hours.
The number of deaths attributed to the virus is now 952 – an increase of 44 over the past 24 hours.
The Western Cape accounts for 30,379 (66%) of the confirmed COVID-19 cases and for 729 (77%) of the deaths.
The Western Cape’s population of 6.8 million only makes up 12% of South Africa’s total population of 58.78 million.
This shows the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the province is out of sync with what is seen in other parts of the country.
Many experts therefore think the Western Cape is ahead of other provinces in the spread of the virus and expect to see similar infection rates and deaths in the rest of South Africa in the coming weeks.
The charts below, courtesy of Media Hack, compare the number of daily infections in the Western Cape with the Eastern Cape and Gauteng – the second and third worst-hit provinces.