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Calls for Western Cape to revert to lockdown level 5

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has hinted that he may consider it.

File picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Calls are growing for the province to return to level 5 as the Covid-19 pandemic spirals out of control, and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has hinted that he may consider it.

Mkhize was speaking during an interview on Radio 702’s Bongani Bingwa show when he said: “When we had the first lockdown it was not because it would be the last time we do it. It may be necessary, and when the time comes we will talk about it.”

Mkhize said the lockdown helped curb infections but people’s livelihoods needed to be secured and it was the government’s job to balance the two.

On Wednesday, the EFF’s provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said: “Currently the provincial healthcare system is overwhelmed and we call for the government to tighten Covid-19 regulations and return the province to level 5 in order to save lives.”

The ANC’s Western Cape convener Lerumo Kalako said: “The fact of the matter is that this thing is spiralling. However, going back to level 5 is not the solution. What needs to be done is proper and strict enforcement of the regulations that are in effect.”

Good Party secretary-general Brett Herron said: “Decisions about lockdown must be based on science and the advice of epidemiologists. Reverting to level 5 will be incredibly difficult given the progressive relaxation of lockdown measures. The implementation of the full health protocols would have reduced the extent of the community transmission in the Western Cape.”

However, Premier Alan Winde said: “Another strict lockdown will have a devastating impact on many of our most economically vulnerable residents. We are therefore not considering a return to level 5, and no indication has been made to us by our counterparts in the national government that this is something they are considering. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are facing the peak of the pandemic and everything we do now can help change the trajectory of that peak.”

Winde spoke as the province recorded 63816 confirmed cases and 44938 recoveries. It announced an additional 35 deaths, bringing the toll to 1859.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said: “Only a few people adhered to lockdown regulations. So those calling for a return to level 5 must state first how the new level 5 will differ from the previous level 5 as no social distancing was maintained in most communities. The people whom we try to protect from the virus are ones where lockdown regulations are not observed. It is the responsibility of the national safety and security cluster to control gatherings, not Health.”

President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry Geoff Jacobs said: “The chamber appreciates where this call is coming from – we are entering winter with a large number of vulnerable people. Even with a mortality rate of 2%, the scenario of an uncontrolled epidemic is an undesired outcome. If the mortality rate does demand drastic action – which it may – what we most desperately need is the absence of unnecessary restrictions that have no bearing on the virus, yet can destroy a business.”

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Cape Argus