Is Nelson Mandela Bay still a Covid-19 hotspot?
Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane says science will have to provide the answer.
Covid-19 cases seem to be dropping in the metro, which has just more than 300 active cases.
This creates an impression that the harsh restrictions imposed on the city over the festive season have resulted in the desired reduction in infections.
Addressing a virtual media briefing on the status of the provincial government’s Covid-19 plans at the Bhisho massacre memorial facility, Mabuyane commended the Bay’s recovery rate, which stood at 94% on Tuesday.
Though active cases had dropped, Mabuyane said, it was not cause to celebrate as active cases had the potential of moving into a third wave.
Asked if the metro was still a hotspot, Mabuyane said he was unsure.
“We could say so but we don’t want to make a [declaration] at this point,” he said.
“We want to continue relying on our epidemiological analysis, which continues to guide us.
“Yes, numbers are dropping, but the fact there are still people carrying the virus worries us.
“We want it to drop even further.
“To talk about 300, that number is still huge and it can bring about a third wave should it come.”
Mabuyane said they did not want to take chances on people’s lives.
“Science will tell us when Nelson Mandela Bay is no longer a hotspot.”
He said there was a general decrease in the active infections in the province as well as daily increases, and the province’s recovery rate had also gone up.
“Our province has recorded the lowest daily infections in the country over the last seven days at an average of 13% per 100,000 population.
“However, we need to increase vigilance to ensure the gains are not temporary.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel due to the bold decision to restrict certain activities during the festive season.
“We’re seeing a reduction in infections in many parts of the province, particularly in Nelson Mandela Bay, which has been the hotspot for a long time.
“They now have 324 active cases and a recovery rate of 94% and this is an important development because the region contributes immensely to the economy of our province.
“We’re seeing similar trends in Buffalo City municipality, which has 459 active cases with a 93% recovery rate,” he said.
“We are working hard to get Chris Hani, Joe Gqabi and Alfred Nzo over the 90% recovery rate so we can start to look at easing restrictions to get our people to work and our kids back to school.”
Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga announced he intended to request the city’s hotspot designation be lifted at the next sitting of the provincial and national coronavirus command councils.
Beaches, dams, lakes and rivers in areas not viewed as Covid-19 hotspots are open to the public, whereas those in hotspots are not.
They remain closed in the metro because the city was designated a Covid-19 hotspot on December 3 by President Cyril Ramaphosa, with new restrictions to contain the virus.
Just last week, the provincial government announced it had given itself six months to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
The target is 3.7-million people getting the vaccine, with 200,000 health-care workers — both in the public and private sector — targeted as part of phase one.
Mabuyane said the city would use schools and community halls for vaccinations because there might be problems with vaccination distribution to far-flung areas of the province.
He encouraged people to get vaccinated.
“We want to dispel the myth and conspiracy about the vaccine.
“We have health authorities who will ensure we receive safe vaccines approved by independent regulators.
“Vaccines at various points in history have been administered to save lives,” Mabuyane said.