Alan Winde. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN
Alan Winde. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN

The Western Cape says it is  ready to move to level 3 of the lockdown despite the province recording the highest infection rate of Covid-19 to date.

The Western Cape now accounts for almost 60% of total Covid-19 cases in SA. Nearly 160 of the total deaths have been reported in the province by Monday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that most of SA would move to level 3 by the end of May which will allow more economic activity. However, it was suggested that areas hardest hit would remain under level 4.

At the weekend, Western Cape premier Alan Winde attended the president’s co-ordinating council which serves as a consultation platform to discuss the proposed “alert level” for various parts of the country.

“During that presentation, I set out how the Western Cape had adopted a targeted hotspot strategy that goes beyond just district level. Using epidemiological data, we can focus the entire impact of our government on geographical areas where the virus is spreading to slow it down and protect vulnerable people,” Winde said.

The province was ready to open the economy further and at the same time save lives, he said.

“This is not business as usual. I take this pandemic seriously and I don’t believe we can just return to normal. Major interventions are needed in these hotspots so that we can save lives. This strategy, however, allows for more of the economy to open while doing so, thereby preventing a severe humanitarian crisis from unfolding at the same time,” he said.

The scientific reason for the lockdown was to allow government time to prepare for the peak of the pandemic, Winde said.

“Covid-19 cannot be stopped, and many people will be infected over the coming weeks. The key measure that must be used to determine levels is whether we are prepared to provide care to every person who needs it at the time they need it.”

Winde said based on evidence on the ground, including the establishment of extra health and quarantine facilities, as well as targeted interventions, the entire Western Cape can move to level 3.

“Our humanitarian support will become unsustainable over time on our current budgets as more and more people lose their jobs. We simply cannot ignore the impact of this on the health of people, especially vulnerable people, into the future,” Winde said.

“This is precisely why, that given our robust health-care system preparation and that we will continue to rigorously intervene in hotspots, we must open more of our economy over time. Not allowing this to happen will threaten lives in the future, and this cannot be ignored by any level of government.”

phakathib@businesslive.co.za