South Africa’s extended period of Level 4 lockdown is scheduled for review on Sunday 25 July. In just a few days, Cyril Ramaphosa will update the nation on whether the tough restrictions will be eased – or alternatively, extended further.
Is there a case for relaxing our current lockdown laws? Well, if the first indicator we look at is ‘new cases’, then there might be something to build on. For the past 14 days, the weekly average of daily infections has been declining. With Gauteng’s ‘fresh case rate’ dropping like a stone, national figures have improved too. But there’s a caveat…
“The national seven-day moving average of COVID cases has declined since 6 July 2021, largely because of the decline in Gauteng. The percentage of people testing positive however increased in the Eastern Cape, Free State, KZN, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, and Western Cape, when compared to previous weeks.” | Dr. Harry Moultrie, NICD
However, the number of new cases is not the only factor that gets considered. We must go beyond the surface, and from there, our bubble of optimism for leaving Level 4 encounters some difficulties. In three ‘improving’ provinces, test positivity rates are still alarmingly high, and remain over the one-in-three mark – posing a significant red flag.
“While the percentage of people testing positive for the virus decreased in Gauteng, Limpopo, North West, the percentage testing positive remained very high – at above 35% – in all three of these provinces.”
“Trends in the coming week will be important in confirming whether the peak of the third wave has indeed been reached or not. Testing rates have decreased in the past TWO weeks, and while this may be reflective of a decreased need for testing due to decreased infections, access to testing has been limited in certain areas due to the social unrest.”
Deaths and hospitalisations are also increasing steadily, due to the high volume of cases reported throughout July. Over 800 people were admitted to hospital facilities within the previous 24 hours, as a direct result of COVID-19. Just shy of 600 citizens died due to the virus on Tuesday, and the mortality rate doesn’t bode well for an end to Level 4 regulations.
Another 596 #COVID19 deaths reported in South Africa🇿🇦 today
Reported deaths are generally highest on Tuesdays, due to lower reporting over weekends😢
— Ridhwaan Suliman (@rid1tweets) July 20, 2021