Media Release: Update on the coronavirus by Premier Alan Winde- we need a common resolve to flatten the curve

21 April 2020

As of 17h00 on 20 April, the Western Cape has recorded 974 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection.

Total confirmed COVID-19 cases 974
Total recoveries 221
Total deaths 17
Total active cases (currently infected patients) 736
Patients in hospital 39 of which are 17 in ICU
Total tests conducted 18931

Sub Districts Cape Town Metro:

Sub-district Cases
Western 252
Southern 161
Northern 42
Tygerberg 87
Eastern 82
Klipfontein 61
Mitchells Plain 60
Khayelitsha 59
Total 804

Sub Districts Non-Metro:

District  Sub-district Cases
Garden Route Bitou 5
Garden Route Knysna 14
Garden Route George 14
Garden Route Hessequa 5
Garden Route Mossel Bay 19
Garden Route Oudtshoorn 3
Cape Winelands Stellenbosch 14
Cape Winelands Drakenstein 8
Cape Winelands Breede Valley 15
Cape Winelands Langeberg 1
Cape Winelands Witzenberg 27
Overberg Overstrand 11
Overberg Theewaterskloof 1
West Coast Saldanha Bay Municipality 3
West Coast Matzikama 1
West Coast Swartland 4

Unallocated: 25

Data notes:

*Going forward, the data will be reported as at 17h00 on the previous day, rather than at midnight in order to allow more time to prepare the daily reports.

A total of 81 629 community screenings have been completed, with 3818 community tests done.

Speaking notes from the scenario planning

As you can see, I have been wearing my cloth mask. I am going to take it off now so that you can all hear me clearly, but this is something we are encouraging every single resident to use when they go out in public.

Make sure that you always follow the 5 golden rules of hygiene when doing so, and that you do not touch your face when wearing it. You can find out how to make your own by going to our website.

I would like to welcome you to our scenario planning and health system response press briefing.

There are many people who are not journalists watching via our Facebook live as well. Thank you for joining us today.

I have received many questions on how our health department is responding to Covid-19, and how we are preparing, given potential scenarios.

We are going to share this information with you today, because we believe the public needs to stay well-informed, and because every single one of us have an important role to play in this response. We are in this together.

Here is our promise – we are giving you the best available data we have to hand right now, and we will continue to update you. We are doing this because the fight against COVID-19 is all of our fight – We need everybody to play their part to ensure that our health services are not overwhelmed, and that we are able to save lives.

I also know that trust is earned. We will continue to earn your trust by being transparent in what is a quickly changing, unprecedented pandemic.

I am joined today by experts to help answer these questions. We need to listen to our experts and take their guidance as we make decisions during this very challenging time.

Dr Cloete is the Head of the Western Cape Department of Health.

Professor Andrew Boulle is from the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research based at the UCT School of Public Health and Family Medicine.

We are lucky to have so many smart, hard-working people in South Africa working on our COVID-19 response. I was so impressed by Professor Abdool Kariem last week, who took South Africa into his confidence by sharing data and information with us.

We have been guided by his research, and we thank him and the National Department of Health for this support.

As mentioned, we are preparing our health response based on the very best evidence available to us about what we have seen abroad, what we have seen in South Africa and the Western Cape to date, and following engagements with the National Dept of Health, and the Presidency.

It is also based on the work of our own academic hospitals, health professionals and researchers who have painted a clinical picture of the likely scenario in the Western Cape.

We must highlight an important point. This is a changing scenario as new information and studies emerge in this global pandemic – we are adapting as quickly as we can and are working 24/7 on updating our response.

Our response also changes day-to-day, based on people’s behaviour – when each of you make the correct choices, it makes the outcome look better for all of us – this effect is immediate.

Every one of us has a role to play in our health response.

There is another point I need to stress, and which Professor Abdool Kariem also highlighted. Lock down has served to delay the peak in COVID-19 cases, it cannot prevent it.

This has allowed us time to build the system that we are showing you – but a difficult time lies ahead for all of us.

Lifting the lockdown, in whatever form it takes, will not make this problem go away and we cannot just go back to normal.

We need to adapt to a “new normal” in the way we behave, so that we can continue to “flatten the curve” and save lives.

As the Western Cape Government have done our best to use this lockdown period to prepare our capability for a major increase in COVID-19 cases, which we expect to still come.

Our own research, backed up by Google’s mobility reports, show that Western Cape residents have by-and-large, come to the party by obeying the lockdown and staying at home. Thank you to every person who has helped us, and helped their fellow citizens.

We need to ALL do even more going forward if we are to reduce that peak of infections, and prevent our health system becoming overwhelmed.

How high that peak is depends on you, and it depends on me.

As you will hear from the experts, we have been preparing for worst case scenarios, so that we are as prepared as possible.

But while we may be preparing for a bad scenario, I want you to know that you have a role to make it better. What you and your family does matters so much right now. We need your help.

Our scenario planning reveals the following:

  • We expect about 80 000 people to be infected and symptomatic at the peak, and more than 90% of these to recover at home.
  • We anticipate a shortfall of 1000 beds in acute and 750 beds in critical care facilities. We anticipate the 750 critical bed shortfall even in the best case scenario and with the private sector included. We’re planning field hospitals to account for those need for acute beds, but we will have a shortfall in critical care beds, which is driven by a shortage in critical care nurses.

These are our current numbers.

It’s going to be tough – but we have a good idea of what the peak is going to be, and we are preparing to be able to respond. We are going to give it everything we have.

I have teams working around the clock to prepare – which our presentation today will show.

At the frontline of our war with COVID-19 are our healthcare workers. I want to take this opportunity to issue a heartfelt and sincere thank you for what you are doing to save lives. You are our heroes and we are proud to have you on our team.

Our healthcare workers need to be protected from COVID-19 so that they are fit and well when we are going to need them most. Of all healthcare workers in the province,47 in both the public and private sector have become infected to date, and as we have seen in other countries, it is inevitable that this number rises.

Healthcare workers will be prioritised to receive the flu vaccine.

Another top priority is making sure we have PPE for these workers as a key response.

We currently have R44 million worth of PPE stock on hand and R185 millon on back order, which we hope to receive in plenty of time before our current stock runs out.

Our community health workers will all receive aprons and cloth masks for their work in the field when dealing with non-COVID cases, and they will receive surgical masks for when they are working with COVID cases.

We are also working with companies to upscale local production – giving business to South African entrepreneurs.

Innovators are coming to the fore.

We will continue with our recruitment drive for healthcare volunteers and are heartened that over 1000 people have responded to our call already. Thank you! These volunteers will be called up when the need arises.

Another critical step in our fight against this virus is pre-emptive screening and testing, and isolation and quarantine for residents who test positive.

We have public sector capacity to do 2000 tests per day, going up to 3000 at the end of the month using gene expert tests.

I know we are worried about ourselves, our families and our future. We need a common resolve as a province and country so that we can flatten the curve. We have achieved so much as a nation – I know we can do it again.

I am worried about stigma associated with Covid-19. We need to show kindness and compassion to those who are ill. This kindness and compassion is seen across our country’s cultures and religions. Let’s show how we are a caring country.

There will be people who need to isolate at a facility because they are not able to stay at home. We should welcome them back warmly when they have recovered. Small acts of kindness and love make all the difference during difficult times.

Finally, in our commitment to transparency, we are making our case data live on

A dedicated dashboard should be live from the end of the week. This will help keep you informed at all times.

This is not a once-off exercise. It is a journey we are taking together. I promise to keep you updated every step of the way.