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Cape Town – As the Western Cape enters the third wave of Covid-19 infections due to an accelerated increase in new cases that was confirmed by provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete on Thursday, politicians engaged in a blame game exercise.
Speaking during Premier Alan Winde’s digicon on the health platform and vaccine rollout strategy, Dr Cloete said that across the province case numbers were increasing and the department was seeing an average of 430 new diagnoses daily.
“We have now entered a third wave. We are on an upward trajectory. It is not gradual, it’s an acceleration. In the Metro overall, there is a 30% week on week increase in cases.
Cloete said there were 52 new hospital admissions per day and deaths were starting to increase with around five to six each day.
Asked about whether there should or would be more restrictions to help curb the spread of infections, Premier Winde said: “We have called on national government to look at the possibility of a differentiated approach to be taken.
“If we get our act together and slow the curve like we have for the last few weeks, it will mean less movement towards a request for further restrictions.”
However, leader of the opposition, Cameron Dugmore (ANC), laid the blame at the Western Cape government’s feet.
“The chickens are coming home to roost in the Western Cape. It is time to be honest about the factors which are driving the third wave in our province.
“Central is the capture of the DA and the provincial government by the liquor industry. Binge drinking is a crisis across all communities, and these sessions become ’super spreaders’ of the virus.
“We repeat our advice to Winde, listen to your head of health. Listen to your officials who are deeply frustrated at the platitudes of alcohol harm reduction in our province.
“As the ANC, we will campaign relentlessly for a totally new Liquor Act and prevent municipalities from extending trading hours.”
Provincial EFF chairperson Melikhaya Xego said: “We have previously warned the premier who is obsessed with economic opportunities more than saving lives.
“Stricter regulations must be put in place to save lives as we all know that the emerging third wave will result in dire circumstances especially for the poor and vulnerable who have no access to adequate healthcare services.”
ACDP MPL Ferlon Christians said: “Under no situation can the Western Cape afford harsher or stricter lockdown regulations. We must look at lives and livelihoods.”
Good party secretary-general Brett Herron, who was recently diagnosed with Covid-19, said: “If it is possible, we must avoid additional lockdown measures since these are devastating to our economy, undermine its recovery and risk worsening our unemployment.
“If the Western Cape is ill-prepared for the third wave because it closed facilities and bed space, then the premier and his government are 100% to blame for any need to implement stricter lockdowns.”
MPL Peter Marais (FF+) said: “Stricter lockdown regulations should not be imposed. It is suicidal. They are asign of political insanity. It is doing things over and over and expecting a different result.
As to how the situation could have been handled better, Marais said the procurement of vaccines should have been handled by a team consisting of the best medical brains attached to the five academic or teaching hospitals in the Western Cape.
Health standing committee chairperson Wendy Philander (DA) said: “As we enter the third wave, the first call is for residents to increase vigilance and abide by the protocols in keeping safe as we have yet to embark on the vaccination drive for the majority of our residents due to ongoing procurement uncertainty and delays in delivery.
“We cannot confirm the intensity of this wave and it is very much dependent on national government efforts to supply the vaccination drive.”