Concern as Covid cases spike

A face mask.

The provincial Department of Health’s Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain sub-districts have seen increases of 51% and 40% in new reported Covid-19 infections respectively in the past 10 days.

Tafelsig, Lentegeur, Rocklands, Westridge, Portland and Colorado Park had seen the highest number of new active cases by Friday December 4.

Fatima Peters, a sub-district Covid-19 contact tracing manager, said their team had identified hot spots, where people were not physically distancing in public spaces, not wearing a mask or wearing it below the chin, which is not the correct way to wear a mask or face covering.

“People are attending large social gatherings and getting infected; they are not staying at home when having Covid-19 symptoms and visiting sick people, who later test positive,” she said.

The Plainsman witnessed poor adherence to Covid-19 regulations in at least one incident this weekend. The residents of Petunia Street, in Lentegeur, also known as “Klein Mecca”, came together to celebrate a mini-minstrel carnival.

Several busloads of people arrived and people clustered together with no physical distancing.

Ward 76 councillor Goawa Timm said she had no knowledge of the event on Sunday December 6.

“This is an ongoing occurrence, which I do not know if they had a permit to do so. I unfortunately cannot stop it,” she said.

Lentegeur SAPS spokeswoman Constable Felicia Adams said the SAPS Mitchell’s Plain Cluster Covid team had been tasked to monitor those activities and to ensure that Disaster Management and Covid-19 protocols were adhered to.

The Plainsman approached one of the minstrel teams for comment regarding the December 6 event in Lentegeur, but they denied involvement.

Muneeb Gambeno, one of the directors of the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association (KKKA), said they had communicated to all the troops that health and safety came first.

“Troops are not to host any illegal events without permits.

We have cancelled all events for the safety of everyone,” he said, adding that the traditional Tweede Nuwe Jaar event would be celebrated in June next year.

“Despite the KKKA directive that klopse owners and leaders should not arrange nor participate in any road marches during the Covid-19 pandemic, certain klopse owners and leaders have still chosen to do so. This is irresponsible and not in line with the principles of the KKKA and the culture,” he said.

“We urge our klopse members and supporters to stay away from these dangerous gatherings and to contact the KKKA should they have any questions regarding klopse activities during the klopse season ahead,” he said.

Eastridge general practitioner Dr Ellapen Rapiti has urged residents not to let their guard down but to “SMS” – sanitise, mask up and keep a safe distance.

“This is for real,” Dr Rapiti said. “We cannot drop our guards – when we drink alcohol, we drop our masks and we go on to hug everyone in sight.

“You can still pick up the virus. There is a lot we know about the virus and there is also a lot we do not know,” he warned.

“The festive season is upon us and people might go crazy. This is a big problem.

“Rather stay without a thing and you won’t die. If the shops are too full, and you go get that thing, you run the risk of dying,” said Dr Rapiti.

Several areas have seen sharp increases in cases, according to health department data:

• Tafelsig increased from 35 to 67 cases in two weeks (32%).

• Lentegeur increased from 18 to 51 cases last week (33%).

• Portland from 13 to 28 cases (15%).

• Colorado Park from 8 to 15 cases (7%).

Ms Peters said their local surveillance team had indicated that people were not adhering to Covid-19 safety regulations at shopping centres.

“Our behaviour will be influenced once we acknowledge and accept that the virus is not gone but will be with us over the holidays and beyond,” Ms Peters said Provincial Department of Health spokeswoman Monique Johnstone recommended the following:

• Wear a mask properly – covering mouth and nose.

• Avoid crowded and confined spaces.

• Urgently reconsider hosting all non-essential gatherings of people this year, especially indoor gatherings with poor ventilation.

• Ensure there is always good ventilation. The Covid-19 virus droplets spread by air in confined spaces.

• Wash your hands regularly, and for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water or use sanitiser.

• If you are sick, do not leave your home unless it is to get medical treatment.

• If you are sick, you must first call the hotline number on 080 928 4102 for guidance on the next steps.

• You should not visit someone who is sick and should rather find other ways to provide support, like delivering a meal to a neighbour’s doorstep.

“Every single resident should assume that Covid-19 is everywhere they go and take all the necessary precautions at every point along their journey,” she said.

Ms Johnstone said the Mitchell’s Plain day hospital was offering Covid-19 tests to people who were mildly sick with flu-like symptoms living in the Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain areas, from 9am until 12.30pm during the week, and from 10am until noon on weekends and public holidays.

“When accessing testing sites, inform the staff, wear your mask and practise physical distancing,” Ms Johnstone said.