Cape Town has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa and one of Africa’s top hot spots.
As a popular tourist destination Cape town had more than 12,000 confirmed cases as of Thursday, representing 63% of SA’s 19,000 cases and about 10% of Africa’s 95,000 cases.
Gauteng province had been projected to be the country’s epicenter with its population density and poverty levels, but Cape Town flouted predictions with high levels of community transmission.
“No model upfront predicted what we see in Western Cape (province),” Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize told journalists Thursday. “The explosion of cases in Western Cape is out of the expected range and it may be that we need to have additional interventions to try and contain those numbers.”
Cape Town’s direct flights to several European capitals caused asymptomatic tourists bring the virus which began to spread undetected.
CT is expected to reach its peak of cases by the end of June, while the rest of South Africa is expected to peak around August or September.
While South Africa reportedly has adequate quantity of hospital beds it remains short of ICUs. It has about 3,300 intensive care beds but predictions suggest more than 20,000 could be needed.
“It is not just a question of beds, it is trained staff and ventilators that will be needed and those are difficult to provide quickly,” said Juliet Pulliam, director of the South African Center for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde, estimated that 200,000 jobs have been lost and 1.2 million to 1.8 million people in the province are hungry.
“We need to see the economy open up with the new normal operations, but without putting our health system under severe strain,” he told reporters. “We need to keep the curve as flat as possible.”