Premier Winde calls for urgent PCC meeting so that remaining COVID-19 restrictions can be removed entirely

I have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request an urgent meeting of the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) so that we can table our latest data in support of the complete removal of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions.

The Western Cape’s data shows clearly that there has been a continued decoupling between COVID-19 infections on the one hand, and COVID-19 related hospitalisations and deaths on the other. A robust measure for COVID-19 pressure on the health platform is oxygen usage, and that has remained low.

Indeed, while there was an increase in COVID-19 infections, the Western Cape remained solidly in the first tier of our trigger system, with hospitalisations, deaths and oxygen usage all remaining low.

What is even more striking is that this is currently the case even though we have already peaked during the latest COVID-19 resurgence, and all indications are that we are starting to see a decrease in COVID-19 infections. We will be unpacking this further during our next digital press conference next week Tuesday.

At the same time, we continue to see record-high unemployment in South Africa, negatively impacted by continued load-shedding and the rising cost of living. The major fuel price increases this week are a serious warning to us all.

Why is our country’s shocking unemployment rate not being viewed with the same urgency that we showed when confronting COVID-19 this time two years ago? It should be treated as the major crisis that it is, and prompt immediate action.

It is for this reason, based on clear data in support of this call, that I call for the lifting of all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, and for this to be done as soon as possible. It is time to completely pass the baton to the citizens of our country who should be entrusted with the responsibility to stay safe if they are at risk.

This in particular means removing the requirement for mask-wearing, and any limitation on gathering, indoors or outdoors. The economy must be allowed to operate, unfettered.

This is what our health data is showing us:

There has been a decrease in daily cases over the last week, with 804 new cases each day based on the 7-day moving average. Most provinces are showing decreasing trends in case numbers.

Cases for the province have decreased by 24% week-on-week.

The PCR proportion of positive tests is approximately 31%, which is 10% lower than two weeks ago, but still higher than before the recent resurgence.

Hospital admissions are also decreasing from a high of 64 new admissions daily two weeks ago to around 52 new admissions.

While deaths in the Western Cape have increased slightly, the absolute number of deaths remains low. The high infection rate, decreasing number of hospitalisations and the low number of deaths indicates that there is a decoupling in this regard.

Despite passing a peak, our:

336-bed Brackengate Hospital of Hope has 31 patients admitted;

66-bed Sonstraal Hospital has 2 patients admitted; and

40 bed-ward at Harry Comay has 0 patients.

We can further re-activate the 200-bed Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope, the 60-bed Freesia Ward and the 30-bed Ward 99, which has not been necessary due to the low demand.

The Western Cape Government has a robust tier-warning system which enables it to respond to increased demand and activate resources such as beds, healthcare workers and oxygen so that they are readily available when needed. We also continue to roll out vaccines, which together with prior infection, have resulted in significant protection in our communities.

The Provincial Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, added: “While we did enter a resurgence, cases are showing a decline which points to us having instead mitigated a severe fifth wave. This is encouraging because it shows that existing immunity and vaccinations are helping to decouple infections, hospitalisations and deaths – showing us that we can safely begin to reopen the economy and move forward. I encourage those of you who have not yet done so to get vaccinated and/or get boosted!”

Speaking on the need to do away with existing COVID-19 related restrictions, the Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger, said: “It’s time that we fully open up our economy which means allowing events to go back to business-as-usual, and focusing on the responsibility of the individual.”

“While the recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey paints a slightly more positive picture for our provincial economy, with 35 000 jobs created quarter-on-quarter, we cannot support restrictions which serve only to undermine the economy. We need to claw back the jobs lost during the pandemic by making it easier for the private sector to create jobs; we need to attract investment, and we need to remove trade barriers,” added Minister Wenger.

Source: Government of South Africa

Health Care