UPDATE ON VACCINATIONS:
Although there is always room for improvement, we must say that we are quite pleased with how the rate of vaccination has been proceeding in the province.
From our 124 vaccination sites so far created in the public sector, and 18 in the private sector, we have managed to vaccinate a total of 360 451 people in the Province. This is made up of 237 195 senior citizens aged 60 and above, and 123 256 health workers.
VACCINATION OF EDUCATORS:
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health will be opening a further 21 new vaccination sites this week, to accommodate educators, who will be getting vaccinated from the 9th of June, which is Wednesday. We will be receiving 110400 J&J vaccines for this category. We already have a database for these educators, which should make their vaccination easier.
These educators will be guided by management in their respective districts and circuits, regarding which sites to go to, in order to get vaccinated.
Some districts will open new sites, where sites don’t already exist; while others will have to designate their existing sites accordingly, to accommodate the teachers. We’re also exploring the possibility of opening these vaccination sites on weekends, because educators work Monday to Friday.
Concerning observations in Schools
We are also concerning by a few schools which have reported high numbers of infections within a space of few days. For example, on Friday, 4th June 2021 one school under Umzinyathi District reported 16 positive cases of learners. Another school under Uthukela District reported 15 positive cases of learners. The Department of Education will continue to implement COVID-19 protocols and to provide necessary PPE, and other forms of support.
COVID – 19 STATUS QUO
The latest information we have gathered over the last 24 hours is that KZN has recorded 227 cases, bringing the total number of confirmed COVID -19 cases to 340 586. Sadly, we have lost 10 534 people as a province.
The province of KwaZulu-Natal Province continues to observe an increase in the number of new cases recorded weekly, which is concerning.
The overall percentage change in the number of new cases between week 21 & 22 was 24%. The actual number of new cases were 726 for week 21; and 900 for week 22 respectively.
Amajuba District is the only District that has reached alert line and cases have been slightly increasing in the 3 previous week. EThekwini has also been receiving the highest number of cases, although it has not reached the alert line.
EThekwini continues to contribute the highest percentage of deaths, at 36% (n=3 843). Of the total deaths, 212 (2%) occurred at home.
The median age for the deaths was 63 years.
More than half of the deceased were female (54%). And, of the total deaths, 7 290 (69%) had comorbidities.
Recoveries stand at 325 295 and active cases are at 4 163.
THIRD WAVE: WHAT WILL TRIGGER OUR EMERGENCY WARNINGS
Many people have been asking whether the Province of KwaZulu-Natal is in the third wave yet? The answer is, at this stage, no!
In terms of our emergency early warning systems, a 10% increase in cases over a 7 day moving average will trigger an alert; while a 20% increase in cases over a 7 day moving average will trigger resurgence, which may indicate that we are entering a third wave of COVID – 19 infections.
So, we continue to monitor trends and signals of a resurgence in the Province. Our focus is on identifying clusters and conducting targeted testing in the affected areas; identifying and strengthening contact tracing; intensifying our risk communication drive, with an emphasis on non-pharmaceutical interventions.
Our strategy to deal with the potential third wave stands on the following pillars:
• Testing all COVID – 19 suspected cases and their contacts
• Isolation of confirmed cases
• Monitoring of those who are self-isolating
• Tracing all contacts of the confirmed cases
• Dedicating beds for quarantine (PUIs), isolation and ICU; and
• Ensuring oxygen availability
• Accelerating vaccinations
Our main focus now is to accelerate vaccination and stay highly prepared, should a third wave hit us. We are calling on techno savvy citizens to assist with the registration of our elderly and the rural poor. We have directed that all MEC Champions, Mayors and Operation Sukuma Sakhe War Rooms dedicate a week in their respective districts and wards to monitor and facilitate registration for vaccinations.
Each one must register one!
Even though our Province has not entered the third wave of COVID – 19, we should nevertheless remain vigilant and acutely aware of the potential risk of a resurgence of infections.
We cannot over-emphasise this: it is crucial for us to adhere to the non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as wearing of masks; maintaining social distancing; and washing our hands regularly with soap and water.
Our memories are still fresh and we have barely recovered from the tragic episodes of the first and the second waves. It is now proven that individual behaviours such as getting into large gatherings, and crowded spaces spreads the virus faster, and among many people.
We urge all citizens to adhere to the Level 2 regulations, which are intended to keep us out of the third wave. Let us continue to limit our movements.
The vaccine is safe and there are plans to register walk inns at vaccination sites. If your turn has come and you have been notified, please go and get the vaccination, because this is our only hope to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.
It is up to you and I to ensure that the relatively low numbers that we are seeing are not the calm before the storm. Let us save the day by doing what is right.