Cape Town – Professor Andrew Boulle, from the Centre for Infectious Diseases at UCT, believes the Western Cape has not yet reached its Covid-19 peak.
Speaking during an online briefing with provincial government leaders on the coronavirus, Boulle also said the number of unnatural deaths has not been seen since the height of the HIV/Aids epidemic.
“We are seeing a crisis of some proportions so I’ve pointed out this very unusual mortality pattern which is really quite unprecedented except for these exceptional circumstances.
“If the Western Cape was a country and was compared to other countries, at this point in time globally we might be one of the countries with the highest current daily mortality rate per million population in the world.
“Some of our most affected subdistricts have a mortality of 600-700 deaths per million, and that is still rising.”
As of Wednesday, Klipfontein – an area of 3.8 million people who live in suburbs such as Delft, Gugulethu, Nyanga and Manenberg – had 6 316 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The number of cases per 100 000 people was 1 662 – the highest in Cape Town – meaning almost 17 people in every 1 000 have been infected. Klipfontein also has the highest per capita rate of active cases – about 400 per 100 000.
On why modellers did not believe the Western Cape had reached its peak, Boulle said: “We are still seeing ongoing increases in mortality, even though the rate of change is slowing. We won’t call it a peak until we see mortality coming down robustly.”
Premier Alan Winde announced yesterday that the Western Cape has recorded an additional 59 deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19-related deaths in the province to 1 918.
As of 1 pm yesterday, the Western Cape has 16 722 active cases of Covid-19, with a total of 65 155 confirmed cases and 46 515 recoveries.
“The peak in the Western Cape seems to be later than was originally projected and is likely to take place from the end of July to the beginning of August.
“This peak is also flatter than was originally projected. This means that we will not have as many hospitalizations and deaths at the peak as we originally thought.
“As a result, it is projected that 5 450 beds will be needed at the ‘peak’ should this scenario hold. This is lower than both the original provisioning scenario from April (6 304) and the previous NCEM calibration from May (7 800).
“However, this flatter trajectory would last for longer. This means potentially more cumulative deaths of approximately 10 000 people during the pandemic.
“The virus could be with us for longer than we thought, with this first peak only ending towards end of November…
“Top scientists are not yet clear on what has caused our curve to be flatter and pushed out. We are dealing with an unprecedented scenario, and we are learning about this virus every day.