Authorities in the Western Cape say the province has seen a sustained increase in Covid-19 cases, likely to be driven by the new omicron variant. Picture - File
Authorities in the Western Cape say the province has seen a sustained increase in Covid-19 cases, likely to be driven by the new omicron variant. Picture - File

W Cape shows ’early signs’ of 4th wave as Omicron cases confirmed

By Tshego Lepule Time of article published Dec 1, 2021

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THE Western Cape has 15 confirmed cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant as the province notes ‘early signs’ of the fourth wave of infections.

Department of health head in the province, Dr Keith Cloete confirmed the cases while briefing the Western Cape Legislature’s Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19 on Wednesday afternoon on the province’s pandemic response.

Cloete said the province was among seven in the country experiencing a sustained increase in positive cases over the past 10 days. He explained that the province has gone from 30 new cases per day, 10 days ago to at least 100 daily, while hospitalisations were still down to ten admissions a day.

He said more than 60% of specimens tested in the province over the past week had markers for the omicron variant but as of Tuesday, only 15 sequenced cases were confirmed - a figure he said was expected to rise in the coming days.

“We are seeing early signs of the fourth wave in the Western Cape in the context of the new variant. We urge everyone to adhere to protective behaviours to contain spread over the coming days and weeks,” he said.

“Our biggest weapon against a big impact fourth wave is vaccination (especially for those over 50 years-old). We have the capacity to administer 40 000 vaccines per day but require a massive whole of society effort to generate increased targeted demand.”

MEC for Health Nomafrench Mbombo said while the province had the country’s highest vaccination rates among the adult population (42%), vaccine uptake among those older than 50 were not on target.

By Tuesday 2.1 million adults in the province were fully vaccinated with 4.1 million vaccines administered.

“Ideally we would have wanted 80% of the 50+ group to get vaccinated by the end of the year (figure sits at just over 60%) and over 60% for the other age (adult) group. We have done what we can (to make vaccines available) with vaccination sites, pop-up sites, vaxi-taxi (an EMS ambulance) that pull up to different areas to administer doses,” she said.

Responding to questions about the province’s stance mandatory vaccination from opposition parties, Mbombo said while mandates at facilities such as SASSA pay-points would help in increasing vaccine uptake among the elderly, the matter was still required to undergo extensive consultative processes.

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