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Coronavirus hotspots will be treated differently

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A different approach will be taken with those areas that have far higher levels of infection and transmission.

Pretoria – While the whole of South Africa will move to coronavirus level 3 lockdown on June 1, those metropolitan areas with a high infection rate will be declared “hotspots” and would see intensive public health interventions, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

“Even as we move to alert level 3 it is important that we should be aware that there are a few parts of the country where the disease is concentrated and where infections continue to rise. We will have a differentiated approach to deal with those areas that have far higher levels of infection and transmission. These areas will be declared coronavirus hotspots,” Ramaphosa said.

“A hotspot is an area that has more than five infected people per 100,000 people, or where new infections are increasing at a fast pace,” he explained.

These included: Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Ethekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay, Buffalo City and Cape Town. 

The other areas that are hotspots are West Coast, Overberg and Cape Winelands district municipalities in the Western Cape, Chris Hani district in the Eastern Cape, and iLembe district in KwaZulu-Natal. 

The list would be reviewed every fortnight.

“We are particularly concerned about the situation in the City of Cape Town and in the Western Cape in general,” Ramaphosa said, noting that the province was home to more than half of all infections recorded nationwide.

 In dealing with the virus in these areas Ramaphosa said that the government would implement intensive interventions aimed at decreasing the number of new infections.

“We are putting in place enhanced measures of surveillance, infection control and management. We will assign a full-time team of experienced personnel to each hotspot. This team will include epidemiologists, family practitioners, nurses, community health workers, public health experts and emergency medical services, to be supported by Cuban experts. 

“We will link each hotspot to testing services, isolation facilities, quarantine facilities, treatment, hospital beds and contact tracing.

“Should it be necessary, any part of the country could be returned to alert levels 4 or 5 if the spread of infection is not contained despite our interventions and there is a risk of our health facilities being overwhelmed. In time, however, through our efforts, it will be possible to place areas where infections are low on levels 2 or 1,” the president said.

He stressed that the worst of the pandemic was yet to come in terms of infections and that these were expected to rise faster in coming weeks.

“The risk of a massive increase in infections is now greater than at the start of the outbreak in our country,” Ramaphosa said and urged citizens to comply with health risk precautions. 

He acknowledged that the government recognised a measure of anxiety among parents regarding the announced, staged re-opening of schools from June 1, and said there would no consequence if parents decided to keep their children at home.

“No parent will be forced to send their child to school if they are worried about safety at the schools,” he said.

The regulations that would pertain to level 3 would see the sale of alcohol allowed, with certain limitations, but the prohibition on the sale of cigarettes would remain in place, he said.

IOL and ANA