OPINION | As ICUs refill within the Western Cape, some lockdown measures might need to be reconsidered

Premier Alan Winde inspects a 300-bed quarantine site has been opened up on Old Mutual premises in Pinelands in Cape Town.

Premier Alan Winde inspects a 300-bed quarantine website has been opened up on Previous Mutual premises in Pinelands in Cape City. (Jan Ras/Information24)


The substantial rest of South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown measures from this week was in all probability each inevitable and the correct determination. However with ICU capability within the Western Cape already stretched, and infections within the province rising quickly, one or two measures might should be reconsidered, argues Highlight’s Marcus Low.

Final week modelling was introduced throughout a Western Cape authorities media convention suggesting that Covid-19 infections within the province are projected to peak by finish June or early July. As is the case nationally, it’s anticipated that there won’t be almost sufficient ICU beds on the time of the height. It was additionally reported that a lot of the public sector ICU beds within the province are already full and that the province is beginning to run in need of employees to deal with individuals in ICU beds.


There will probably be some reduction if agreements with the personal sector might be finalised, one thing we perceive is now as much as the Nationwide Division of Well being, besides, the outlook is bleak.

Many who will want ICU beds will merely not be capable of get them. Many who might have lived had a mattress been obtainable will die. Many healthcare staff will, or have already, skilled horrors that they may carry with them for the remainder of their lives.

That is the context during which a lot of South Africa’s lockdown measures are being relaxed from this week.


But, that a point of rest of the lockdown measures was required is broadly accepted. The financial pressures are immense. Individuals want meals to eat. Individuals want ‘regular’ non-Covid-19 healthcare companies. The trade-offs are devilishly complicated. These in authorities have my sympathy for the not possible place they’re in.

However the truth that the state of affairs is not possible, doesn’t imply we must always look away from the implications of presidency’s selections.

In South Africa we’re stress-free most of our lockdown measures previous to the epidemic peaking, or at the very least the present wave of the epidemic peaking. On this respect our stress-free of restrictions differs significantly from these presently seen in Europe, the place restrictions have principally been lifted solely after infections had peaked.


This is a crucial distinction.

What fuels an epidemic as you climb towards its peak is contact between infectious and prone individuals. By lifting restrictions now, we’re permitting the epidemic extra gasoline and to climb larger than would in any other case have been the case. Extra individuals will get sick within the subsequent few months than would have in any other case. Extra will want essential care. Extra will die.

Broadly talking this can be a horrific, however in all probability an unavoidable consequence of the choices authorities needed to make to get the economic system going and assembly the various different determined wants individuals have. Painful as the results of those huge image selections have been, till now most of them have been, if not excellent, actually defendable.


And but, there now appears to be a way that issues are starting to fray on the edges, that the stress, the politics, the lobbying from all sides, and doubtless additionally the in-fighting, is attending to our leaders. Like with an excessively drained footballer, some passes are going straight to the opposition – errors we will’t afford at a time after we want pin-point accuracy.

Proper now the stakes are highest within the Western Cape.

With instances already rising alarmingly and with the height of the province’s infections projected to be only a month away, the choice to permit spiritual gatherings and to open colleges might give the epidemic extra gasoline at precisely the second we will least afford it.


Authorities may allowed spiritual gatherings in a lot of the nation, however not in elements of the Western Cape and Japanese Cape. This type of nuance is in spite of everything a part of the considering behind the new spot technique. Particularly with restrictions on inter-provincial journey, provinces have separate epidemics operating on separate timelines and with totally different native dynamics.

Equally, the national-level determination to carry the ban on the sale of alcohol comes arguably on the worst doable time for the Cape City Metro, provided that public ICU beds within the metro are already nearing capability. That bars and night time golf equipment aren’t opening will in all probability imply that alcohol-related ICU admissions received’t return to pre-lockdown ranges, however a rise however appears probably.

Both manner, one hopes alcohol-related ICU submissions within the metro will probably be carefully watched. If there’s a important variety of alcohol-related admissions within the subsequent week or so, authorities ought to reinstitute the alcohol ban within the space. It could be the correct factor to do, each for our healthcare staff and for many who will want ICU beds due to Covid-19.


None of that is to say we must always return to the strict lockdowns we had below stage four and stage 5. Such far-reaching lockdowns are blunt devices, ill-suited to the cautious balancing of well being, financial and social pressures that we now require. As an alternative, what we want is for the nuance promised by the new spot technique to be translated into concrete, focused interventions based mostly on a rational evaluation of the obtainable proof.

If which means some rigorously chosen lockdown measures need to be reinstated within the Western Cape or within the Cape City metro, then so be it.

– Marcus Low is the editor of Highlight – a web based publication monitoring South Africa’s well being techniques.