Covid numbers low but rising, we need data on new variant ASAP

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Western Province Premier Alan W India talks to John Maytham about the latest Covid-19 figures in Cape Town.

  • Premier Winde says it is crucial that researchers provide more detailed information on the impact of the new variant before decisions are made on travel bans and other restrictions
  • The number of new infections is still low but is starting to increase
  • No detection of a new variant in the Western Cape at this time, but there are likely new cases, according to Winde
FILE: Prime Minister of the Western Cape, Alan Winde. Photo: @ alanwinde / Twitter

Germany and Italy have joined with the UK in banning travelers from South Africa, with the EU likely following suit.

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Premier Alan Winde speaking to John Maytham on Friday afternoon acknowledges the latest developments are devastating news for the province as the holiday season and summer tourist season approach.

We don’t even have clear data to say it’s going to be more contagious or just what the consequences of this new variant will be.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

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That’s the really frustrating part is that without having clear information we are faced with all these decisions to say that all the flights are going to be stopped given the ripple effect starting with the UK last night, then other countries after today.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

So what I asked is that our researchers give us this data as quickly as possible so that we can make the right decisions.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

Winde said in discussions with international partners such as the Consuls General that he made it clear that once information on the new variant was gathered, a decision to reverse the decision was made as quickly as it was initially implemented.

Information that must be communicated includes the aggressiveness of the transmissibility of the new variant and the effectiveness of vaccines against it, he notes.

The first question would be, of the people who currently have this variant, how many are vaccinated, how many are not. We need to get those kinds of details over the next few days.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

John recounts an email from a listener who had 70 cancellations Friday from tourists booked to arrive in the country.

Winde adds that this is true for the film and event industries as well as for tourism and hospitality.

Many have looked at these term bookings and gone out and bought stocks so that they can be prepared – so all that money has been spent and borrowed to put it all together, and it happens. So we really need to get decisive information quickly.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

Winde says that in addition to this, the situation in South Africa must also be assessed.

The way we react in the country is also going to be critical in the coming days.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

New Covid-19 infections are still low in the Western Cape, he adds, but there are signs the numbers are starting to rise.

India says the numbers in cities across the province have doubled in cases from around 2 infections to 5 or 7 infections.

We are seeing a small number of increases – but the only place where there is no increase yet is the Karoo.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

Although we don’t have any of the new variants detected, but [provincial Health Department’s] Professor Mary-Ann Davies said it is likely that we have the variant infections that are increasing.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

He says he doesn’t think President Ramaphosa will introduce a tougher lockdown at this point.

Usual Covid-19 safety protocols are encouraged such as mask wearing and social distancing, he adds.

But I sincerely hope that we don’t get to the point where, at this rate, we’re already saying we need to slow things down. The messages I’m getting aren’t that we need to do this – but Sunday will tell.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

I still think this is the start.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

We think we have enough [hospital] capacity based on the previous wave – but we need the research to give us more details on the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape

Information is needed on the most affected age groups, he adds, because initially in Gauteng, the peak in new infections seemed to be mainly among young people.

All we have at the moment is on the hospitals before we make any other decisions.

First Alan Winde – Western Cape


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