President Cyril Ramaphosa and other critical members of government’s COVID-19 response team will be rolling in to the Western Cape for crunch talks with Premier Alan Winde and his provincial cabinet to discuss the province’s response to the rapidly increasing rate of positive cases.
The Western Cape is still by far the country’s worst hit province, but Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu quelled anxiety over a return to Level 4 on Thursday, saying that such outcomes had not been discussed at this stage.
Ramaphosa will be joined in the Western Cape on Friday 5 June along with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, Defence Minister NosiviweMapisa-Nqakula, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Police Minister Bheki Cele, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.
The team of ministers will want to gain a thorough insight into what the Western Cape challenges are, as well as their level of preparedness.
Mthembu said that there had been no mention of moving the Western Cape back to Level 4 due to the high infection rate, but said that he would remain in contact with various ministers who may decide to debate the issue.
“There has been no discussion to put the Western Cape at a higher alert level. We are all at the same phase. In all hot-spots, there will be enhanced regulations that apply in hotspots. We await further instructions from our ministers,” he said.
The province accounts for two thirds of the country’s cases, with a total of 24 657 cases and 597 out of the total 792 deaths.
Winde said on 3 June that the biggest challenge the province is facing is a lack of testing, which he said renders his cabinet unable to make informed decisions as they would hope for.
“When you can’t test, you must become much more clever. We do batched testing and cluster them as we ration tests. We will do more testing on nurses in the frontline and high risk patients.”
“The Minister (Mkhize)has made an agreement with us that we will receive more tests per capita than the other provinces because of the infection density.”
Mthembu also said that government is concerned by a drop in dam levels in the Western Cape, and appealed for residents to use water sparingly.