While the world remains in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, some Mitchell’s Plain residents may seem like they don’t care – but that’s because their focus is on feeding their families and keeping a roof over their heads.
So said Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79 and Wolfgat Sub-council chairman.
A total of 15 183 Mitchell’s Plain residents have reportedly been infected with Covid-19 since the pandemic started, with 2 063 of these currently classified as active cases, according to Western Cape health spokesperson Natalie Watlington.
In the past week there were 1 111 new cases and 92 new deaths; and over the past 10 months the area has had 12 440 recoveries and 680 deaths.
Particularly hard hit has been a community in Beacon Valley where eight residents in a single road have died of Covid-19 in the past six months. And in other areas, residents live in close proximity to each other, sometimes out of necessity, and sometimes in an effort to help each other.
And it was human nature to want to “reach out and help our neighbours”, said Mr Philander.
“But we have to think seriously about the implications of us not being safe.
“We are so caring by nature, socialising and wanting to be there for each other and we can’t even imagine that we cannot be there for our neighbours.”
Mr Philander said almost 10 months into the national Covid-19 lockdown, residents were taking more risks and not adhering to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s calls to wear a mask, wash hands regularly and keep a safe distance from other people.
“Your need to take responsibility for your health and for you to stay out of hospital,” he saidd.
“People take for granted that this won’t happen to them but look at how many lives we’ve lost.”
Mr Philander said many Mitchell’s Plain residents were fighting for survival, with a focus on being able to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.
“Covid-19 in these homes is not a priority.
“Some communities are numb to the reality out there and it might seem like nobody cares. But they can’t care,” he said.
Anthea Arendse, principal of Mizpah Educare Centre and ward committee member, said more education was necessary to explain to residents the dangers of the virus.
“They (the government) should explain to people and raise awareness on how they can relieve the pressure on the healthcare system by staying safe,” she said.
Ms Arendse said not enough was being done to encourage residents to stay safe.
Last week Mitchell’s Plain Hospital of Hope opened its doors to 64 intermediate care Covid-19 patients – a field hospital prepared to accommodate up to 200 beds at Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital.
The first two wards, including 100 beds – 91 with normal oxygen access and nine with high flow nasal oxygen access – were completed on January 1.
A third ward opened this week and a fourth ward is scheduled to open next week.
Biana Capazorio, spokesperson for Premier Alan Winde, said the provincial government had decided to focus its Covid-19 response during the second wave on existing facilities.
“This ensures that we are able to make maximum use of facilities, including equipment, and staff on site, while also remaining closer to our communities. This way additional investment, such as the fitting of oxygen facilities, will also benefit the facility in the long-term,” she said.
The government’s resurgence plan focuses on bringing online intermediate care capacity.
“We are recruiting more staff and we have potential for additional beds in facilities across the province should they be required and should we have available staff for them,” said Ms Capazorio.