STATEMENT BY THE PREMIER OF KWAZULU-NATAL HON Mr SIHLE ZIKALALA, ON THE OCCASION OF A MEDIA BRIEFING ON THE STATUS QUO REGARDING COVID – 19 IN THE PROVINCE, ETHEKWINI DISASTER CENTRE, 06 SEPTEMBER 2020
HONOURABLE MEC FOR HEALTH, Ms NOMAGUGU SIMELANE-ZULU;
ESTEEMED MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA;
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN;
INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME:
We welcome you once again to this media briefing, which helps us take stock of the progression of the COVID – 19 pandemic in our province, so that we are kept abreast of the developments.
DUT AND UKZN RANKED AMONG WORLD’S BEST UNIVERSITIES
I wish to start by congratulating the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Durban University of Technology for being ranked among the world’s best universities by the Times Higher Education initiative. These academic institutions are our partners in the fight against Covid-19 and have been providing research and scientific advice that has assisted us to explore the coronavirus89 public health crisis in new ways from prevention to treatment.
These institutions are among 11 South African universities in this list. The ranking is a global performance ranking that judges research-intensive universities, with the full list made up of 1500 institutions.
This is excellent news as it signifies growth within the knowledge economy. So, once again, congratulations to UKZN and DUT.
ACTIONS OF ARTISTS EARLIER THIS WEEK:
This week we noted a march by artists and other stakeholders within the value chain of the entertainment industry. We wish to indicate that we are not oblivious to the plight of the entertainment sector. We fully understand the impact that Covid-19 has induced on the livelihoods of our colleagues in the arts, culture and entertainment sectors. We hear them, and we are more than willing to engage on matters. It is against this backdrop that the government announced relief for our arts and culture practitioners.
We are also aware that the Department of Arts and Culture has announced the second wave relief fund. This relief will be available to the arts, culture and heritage sector as well as the sports sector. We will request our artists to engage the Department of Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation to get more details about the relief interventions. But we wish to reiterate that everything that Government does is informed by medical and scientific advice. Government cannot simply do away with the risk adjusted strategy and operate as if it is normal.
As much as we understand that livelihoods are impacted by the restrictions of the lockdown, even at Level 2, we always have duty to protect and preserve lives. Whatever we are doing, we must never ever be accused of allowing a genocide to unfold in this country. Government does not decide on its own, but is informed by an advisory council. So, we cannot afford to be hauled before the International Criminal Court one day and be made to answer for some reckless decisions that we have taken.
Our message to the entertainment sector, therefore, is let us not take the law into our own hands, or disrupt the economy. Let’s rather engage, so that we can be able to find solutions where possible, within the constraints in which we find ourselves.
COVID – 19 STATUS QUO:
We have heard recently pronouncements by the Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize that the South African storm may be over now. This is based on the evidence of the decline in infection rates nationally. As KZN we have taken the view that it may be too early for us to celebrate the drop in infections and the drop reported. We will, however, be continuously guided by the National Coronavirus Command Council. However, we have seen the threats of the second wave as reported in countries such as China, Italy, Spain and the United States of America. Our message is still very clear adhering to lockdown regulations level 2 is crucial to curbing the spread of COVID-19.
We recall that projections as we were entering the storm were sitting over 250 00, however, as the province we have navigated the storm and registered very less numbers to what was projected. While we fully understand that we are not out of the woods, we must give credit for every little sign of progress and achievement to health care and emergency workers. We pay tribute to many health practitioners for an outstanding job done. The projected figures were not reached perhaps because of the many medical practitioners that sought to dedicate and sacrifice their lives to the cause of saving fellow compatriots.
LATEST COVID-19 UPDATE DATA
The Confirmed Global Covid-19 infections have hit the 26,4 million mark, with the death toll reaching 871,166 .
In South Africa, there have been a total of 636 884. Deaths have reached 14 779, while recoveries have climbed to 561 204.
KwaZulu-Natal has registered 114 646 COVID – 19 infections, 2 294 deaths, and 101 989 recoveries.
COVID–19 NUMBERS ARE GOING DOWN IN SA AND KZN
All indications are that the prevalence of COVID-19 is finally going down in our province. Indeed, this decline in the rate of infections has been noticeable since the beginning of August 2020.
The number of hospital admissions in this province has also dropped below 1000, in both public and private hospitals combined. The number of persons under investigation (PUIs) admitted has also declined tremendously. The Province is currently ranked second-highest in terms of laboratory testing, and the positivity rate has also dropped to below 10% daily.
Over the past two weeks, the Province recorded 5 664 COVID-19 cases and 358 deaths.
The 26th August 2020 was the last day that the Province recorded more than 500 cases (575 to be exact). The average number of cases in the past 7 days is 371.
The highest number of deaths recorded in the past two weeks was 57. The Province currently contributes 15% of the overall deaths nationally.
SURVEILLANCE AND EPIDEMIOLOGY: DISTRIBUTION OF CASES BY REPORTING DATE AND DISTRICT
Distribution of cases and deaths by district, KwaZulu-Natal, 5 Mar-5 Sept 2020
District New cases %. New cases Total cases %.Total Total deaths %. Total deaths Case Fatality rate (%)
EThekwini 158 55.2 54 177 47.3 1 121 48.9 2.1
ILembe 13 4.5 6 123 5.3 58 2.5 0.9
UMgungundlovu 30 10.5 15 822 13.8 346 15.1 2.2
UThukela 13 4.5 4 895 4.3 114 5.0 2.3
King Cetshwayo 30 10.5 9 625 8.4 201 8.8 2.1
UGu 6 2.1 4 747 4.1 89 3.9 1.9
Amajuba 8 2.8 6 578 5.7 149 6.5 2.3
UMkhanyakude 9 3.1 2 403 2.1 54 2.4 2.2
Harry Gwala 3 1.0 2 307 2.0 50 2.2 2.2
Zululand 10 3.5 4 676 4.1 55 2.4 1.2
UMzinyathi 4 1.4 2 481 2.2 57 2.5 2.3
Unallocated 2 0.7 812 0.7 0 0.0 0.0
Total 286 100.0 114 646 100.0 2 294 100.0 2.0
Of the 286 new cases recorded on 5 September 2020, eThekwini District recorded 55% followed by King Cetshwayo (11%) and Umgungundlovu Districts (11%).
Fatalities, 28 March-5 Sept 2020
KwaZulu-Natal Province recorded 31 new COVID-19 related deaths on 5 Sept 2020. Among the newly reported deaths, EThekwini District had the highest proportion. The province has had a cumulative number of 2 294 deaths (Case fatality rate: 2.0%) since the beginning of the pandemic. EThekwini Metro Municipality contributed 49% of the reported deaths (n=1 121). The median age for the deaths currently stands at 62 years.
Incidence risk by district (per 100 000 population)
The overall incidence risk for the province was 92 cases per 100 000 population (calculated using active cases). The incidence risk has been declining since the beginning of August. King Cetshwayo District continue to be the district with the highest infection rate (311 cases per 100 000) followed by Harry Gwala (129 cases/100 000) and UMgungundlovu Districts (117 cases/100 000). Eight districts (73%) has an incidence risk of <100 cases per 100 000 population including Ethekwini District.
On 4 September 2020, the province had 885 patients admitted in both private (n=643, 73%) and public (n=242, 27%) hospitals. Of those admitted, 197 patients (22%) required intensive care services. Private hospitals had more patients in ICU (86%, n=169) than public facilities (14%, n=28). Among those who required intensive care, 55% (n=108) were ventilated. Other patients, 10% (n=96) were admitted in high care units in both private (74%, n=71) and public (26%, n=25) facilities. Inkosi Albert Luthuli (IALCH) had majority (50%) of patients admitted in intensive care units. Majority of ventilated patients were admitted in IALCH (56%). Above half of the PUIs admitted in ICU in public sector were ventilated.
Persons under investigation
A total of 403 Persons under investigation were admitted in our public health facilities as of the 5 September. Of the total PUIs admitted, none required ICU beds and/or ventilation support. Of the total admitted, 31% required oxygenation.
Operational bed occupancy status
There are 1 959 operational beds available for COVID-19 patients. Of the total beds, 86% were vacant. Only 15% of the allocated ICU beds in public sector were occupied on 5 September 2020.
Infected health care workers
A total of 7 043 health care workers (HCWs) were infected with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Above 60% of the infected HCWs have recovered. Of the total infected, 67 (1%) (Case fatality rate) succumbed to the disease
Infected health care workers and their outcomes, KwaZulu-Natal, 5 Mar-5 Sept 2020
Facility type Cases Active cases %.active Recoveries %. Recovered Deaths %. Died
Public health facilities 5 273 1 538 29.2 3 680 69.8 55 1.0
Private health facilities 1 770 540 30.5 1 218 68.8 12 0.7
Total 7 043 2 078 29.5 4 898 69.5 67 1.0
The overall proportion of recoveries for the province is 89%.
Table: Total cases and recoveries by district, KwaZulu-Natal, 5 Mar-5 Sept 2020
District Total cases Active cases Deaths Recoveries
no. active %. active no. deaths %. deaths no. recovered %. Recoveries
EThekwini 54 177 2 505 4.6 1 121 2.1 50 551 93.3
ILembe 6 123 221 3.6 58 0.9 5 844 95.4
UMgungundlovu 15 822 1 309 8.3 346 2.2 14 167 89.5
UThukela 4 895 75 1.5 114 2.3 4 706 96.1
King Cetshwayo 9 625 2 985 31.0 201 2.1 6 439 66.9
UGu 4 747 707 14.9 89 1.9 3 951 83.2
Amajuba 6 578 477 7.3 149 2.3 5 952 90.5
UMkhanyakude 2 403 50 2.1 54 2.2 2 299 95.7
Harry Gwala 2 307 651 28.2 50 2.2 1 606 69.6
Zululand 4 676 83 1.8 55 1.2 4 538 97.0
UMzinyathi 2 481 488 19.7 57 2.3 1 936 78.0
Unallocated 812 812 100.0 0 0.0 0 0.0
Total 114 646 10 363 9.0 2 294 2.0 101 989 89.0
BEWARE THE THREAT OF A SECOND WAVE
Although the declining COVID – 19 statistics are encouraging, we should always be mindful of a threat of a second wave of infections.
In countries such as India, China, South Korea, Germany, Spain, and New Zealand, new COVID - 19 are being reported every day.
South Korea is in the midst of a second wave of novel coronavirus infections focused around its densely populated capital, stemming from a holiday in May.
Just as the country announced it would be easing social distancing guidelines in early May, new cases spiked, driven in part by infections among young people who visited nightclubs and bars in Seoul over the holiday weekend.
All of this has prompted calls for a return of a full-scale lockdown, which is the equivalent of Level 5.
All of this is happening for no reason other than the fact that citizens in those countries have stopped adhering to the precautions. This really should serve as a lesson for us as South Africa, and KwaZulu-Natal in particular. If we do not want to suffer the circumstances, we should never, ever be complacent.
We wish to, once again, caution our people that the threat of a Second Wave of COVID – 19 is not far-fetched. The risk of the spread of the infection is no different between levels of the risk adjusted strategy.
As we move to get our lives back, self-preventative measure is the only way we can get to zero infection rate. Let us continue with our lives but with high care, not only for ourselves but for our families and loved ones. This is a journey and we will beat this virus if we all do the right things.
We urge all citizens to continue observing health protocols such as social distancing, wearing of face masks, sanitizing and washing of hands. We also caution against sharing of drinks, cigarettes, cigars, and the so-called “hubbly-bubbly.” Do not behave in a manner that will put your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk.