Picture: Nursing staff of Sedgefield Clinic were performing up to 58 Covid tests a day during the peak period of the second wave.

There was a collective sigh of relief on Monday 25 January, when the Garden Route District Director of Health Zee Brickles announced that the district has shown a 43% decline in new COVID-19 cases over the past seven days when compared to 7-14 days previously, as well as a decline in hospitalisations.

Indeed, according to the Western Cape Health Department Covid dashboard, the Garden Route ‘Seven Day Moving Average’ (ie the average number of new cases per day for the last week) was sitting at 56 on 26 January, compared to 164 on 18 January, and 430 on 14 December.
Director Brickles was quick to point out, however, that though this percentage drop in Covid infections is sizeable, it certainly shouldn’t be taken to indicate that this wave is over.
“We are optimistic about the decline in numbers but remain vigilant in order to contain any cluster outbreaks through responding as early as possible. We have to maintain our momentum of surveillance and monitoring as a Department but also rely on the community to keep up with the protective behaviours (wearing a mask at all times in public, avoiding crowded spaces, avoiding spaces with poor ventilation and maintaining social distancing) that have brought about the gains which we now see,” he said

Increasing our protection through vaccination.
As vaccines arrive in South Africa (it is estimated that 1 000 000 vaccines will be made available for all frontline workers before the end of January), the Western Cape Government will play a stewardship role.
Administration of these vaccines forms part of the vaccine roll-out strategy which the Department is working on, including the logistics thereof, with the input of private sector roleplayers.
The roll-out will be executed in a phased approach, with the first phase targeting healthcare workers. The second phase will target essential workers, people in congregate settings, persons older than 60 years, and persons older than 18 years with comorbidities. The third phase is envisioned to target people older than 18 years who have not been vaccinated during the first two phases.