EC to embark on mass testing, enforce wearing of masks in public to prevent Covid-19 resurgence

The Eastern Cape provincial government will embark on mass testing, screening, tracking, tracing of people who are contacts of people infected by coronavirus, enforce mandatory wearing of cloth masks in public places, public transport and other regulations put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections in the province.

There are currently 108 313 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province, 94 799 of those people have since recovered and sadly, 4 054 people have died from COVID-19 related illnesses. The daily epidemiological report from the Eastern Cape provincial Department of Health issued last night (15 November 2020 at 23:00) shows that in the last 24 hours 78,4% of the newly reported cases were from the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Sarah Baartman district municipalities.

The epidemiological report goes further to say, the number of active cases in the last 24 hours was 9,460 and that 89,7% of all the active cases were from the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Sarah Baartman municipalities. According to the epidemiological report, the seven-day moving average shows a 34,5% increase in the positivity rate from 20,0% to 26,9% in the last 13 days, i.e. a rapid increase of cases.

The meeting of the Extended Provincial Coronavirus Command council that took place on Sunday afternoon, took a decision to embark on mass testing, isolation & contact quarantine as a way of slowing the spread of COVID-19 infections.

The province will receive additional testing resources from the national government, personnel for tracking and tracing to help us with mass testing and screening. Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize will announce more details on this during his visit to the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Sarah Baartman this week. Some of the Cuban doctors have been re-assigned to the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro to assist with the resurgence of COVID-19

This will see testing of all people between the ages of 16 to 60 in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Sarah Baartman district municipality using antigen detection (Ag RDT) and PCR confirmation to find more positive cases and those that were contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus in order to slow community transmission.

One of our responsibilities through this approach is to ensure the provision of medical care & protection of the elderly by ensuring that logistics team supports hospitals, triage older patients when admitted to hospitals, ensure availability of beds in hospitals, ensure availability of oxygen supply and Personal Protective Equipment in all hospitals.

The province has also resolved to enforce wearing of masks in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and in the Sarah Baartman district by making masks wearing mandatory in public with police pro-actively insisting on wearing of masks.

This type of enforcement is to make the people of the province wear masks so that they protect themselves, protect their families, their friends and colleagues from being infected by coronavirus. Wearing of masks protects people from being infected by the virus.

We continue identifying clusters/amplifiers of infections and in this regard, District Epidemiologists will intensify monitoring of data to identify localised outbreaks to inform our interventions to outbreaks for us to be able to fight flaring up infections.

We are increasing distribution of public information to educate the public about continuation of adhering to prevention measures to prevent transmission of this virus for public action. The public action we want to see is change in the behavior of our people. We want the people of our province to obey all the prevention measures put in place to prevent the spread of transmission.

The provincial government will now release the epidemiological report of the provincial Department of Health to the public on a daily basis. This report will only focus on the rate of infections, number of people admitted in hospitals, numbers of people who have died as a result of COVID-19 related illnesses, number of active and new COVID-19 cases. This will be shared with the media for news reporting to inform society. The report will
be shared late in the evenings.

The implementation of this programme will increase engagement with public stakeholders like the taxi industry, alcohol trading and entertainment places, the basic and higher education sector, shopping malls, businesses in these hotspot areas to enforce wearing of masks, sanitizing, keeping and maintaining physical distance as part slowing the spread of infections.

With regards to ulwaluko, there is no final decision from the national government on the submission made by the Eastern Cape provincial government. We appeal to the people of our province to wait for the process of engagement between the national and provincial government on this matter to conclude. At the moment, ulwaluko remains suspended in
the province and in the country.

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