David Makhura. Picture: SOWETAN
David Makhura. Picture: SOWETAN

Gauteng’s lower infection rate should not fool people into believing that the Covid-19 pandemic is overstated, premier David Makhura warned on Thursday, adding that the disease was spreading into the province’s populous townships.

While Gauteng was initially the epicentre of the pandemic in SA, this has shifted to the Western Cape, as the country continues its lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Makhura said that since the first case was confirmed on March 6, 61% of all the province’s 1,720 cases thus far had recovered.

He warned that the rate of infection will “no doubt increase” as all models indicated that this will happen. The provincial government’s task was to ensure that the health system was not overwhelmed when the rate went up.

Makhura said the hospitalisation rate in Gauteng was low, but the winter flu season may be “a huge challenge”. The province was working to ensure it was ready for increased pressure on its health-care system.

There was still “a mountain to climb” and scientists had advised that another peak could be expected in August and September, beyond the flu season, he said.

The hot spots in the province have been changing, and “no-one should ever say that Covid-19 won’t go to the townships”. 

Gauteng was seeing cases transmitted within communities. Cases in Tshwane were originally concentrated in the Pretoria central business district but were being reported in the townships. Makhura said the hot spots in Johannesburg were moving to the south of the metro and towards townships on the West Rand and in Ekurhuleni.

“People in our townships need to understand that Covid knows no boundaries,” Makhura said.

The government needed to rely on community support in enforcing the lockdown regulations.  “We need people in our communities to work with us for us to succeed. The road ahead is tough, but we can reduce the number of people who are infected.”  

Makhura said Covid-19 testing in the province, when combining private and public-sector figures, accounted for about a third of all tests done in SA.

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