The Western Cape and Northern Cape have recorded COVID-19 positivity rates above the national average.

This is according to Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, who briefed the nation regarding the virus and government’s vaccination rollout plans.

Phaahla said the country’s overall COVID-19 positivity rate stands at about 19%, with these two provinces showing an average positivity rate that is concerning.

“The Western Cape has an average of 27% positivity rate daily. As of [Thursday], the Northern Cape had 30%. What is worrying is that the Northern Cape’s numbers have remained high relative to its population and that’s why its positivity has remained high over a prolonged period.

“Our epidemiologists and analysts often say the Northern Cape never came out of the second wave, it came straight into the third wave,” the Minister said.

He said an increase in positive cases among the youth in those provinces also raised concern.

“What is worrying is that in both provinces, there have been more younger people between the ages of 10 and 19, who have been testing positive. While some cluster [outbreaks] can be attributed to the opening of schools, there have also been indications that social activities have also had a role to play, such as young people engaging in parties without any precautions,” Phaahla said.

Meanwhile, the Minister reported reductions in new COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions throughout the country.

“Over the last seven days, there has been a 2.2% decrease in new cases, which is a very slow reduction. Admission to hospitals reduced by 0.7% to 13 600 yesterday – small but welcome.

“Over the last seven days, hospitalisation reduced by 3.3%. New cases reduced by 2.2% – again, small but welcome, even though there were increases in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Free State over the last seven days,” he said.

Youth vaccine uptake

Despite this, the Minister said the uptake of the vaccine by South Africans between the ages of 18 and 34 is showing great promise, with at least 460 173 people in that cohort being vaccinated.

“Seven days ago, we opened up for registration and vaccination of everybody over 18 years, meaning the 18 – 34 [could get vaccinated]. The response of our young people, who are the future of our country, has been overwhelming.

“We urge our young people to continue to come forward, and to also encourage their parents, older friends and relatives to also come forward because we still have a major gap to cover, especially the over 50 and the 35 plus [population group],” Phaahla said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

News Reporter