covid-19 gauteng

This aerial view shows residents gathering on a roof of a building in the Johannesburg CBD, on April 22, 2020. Photo by MARCO LONGARI/AFP

COVID-19 in Gauteng: Funerals and protests linked to rapid spread of the virus

Funerals and protests continue to be a breeding ground for the spread of Coronavirus in Gauteng, says Premier David Makhura.

covid-19 gauteng

This aerial view shows residents gathering on a roof of a building in the Johannesburg CBD, on April 22, 2020. Photo by MARCO LONGARI/AFP

Speaking during the Gauteng Provincial Command Council update on Friday, the Premier said he was particularly worried about public gatherings.  

Gauteng, which is the country’s epicentre in terms of the number of infections, has 171 574 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak, even though the number of recoveries is also high.

COVID-19 hotspots in Gauteng

Soweto is now the Gauteng’s hotspot and has overtaken the Inner City and Mayfair, followed by the Alexandra and Wynberg area.

“If you have a funeral at a hotspot, more people are likely to be infected,” said the Premier, noting that some residents continue to gather socially and host parties, which is prohibited by the regulations.

The Premier cited a time when infections in Soshanguve, Mabopane and Ga-Rankuwa were shooting up. “We traced it from one funeral [and another] where over 1 000 people attended the funeral on 17 July (sic).”

Makhura said he was also concerned about public transport, which poses a threat ever since the economy opened. While the number of daily COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks of July have been decreasing, it is too early to celebrate, Makhura said.

In Ekurhuleni, which is home to Tembisa, and Diepsloot in Johannesburg, the rate of infections has been dropping. Urging citizens to take personal responsibility for their safety, the Premier said:

“We’re still in the midst of the storm. We still need to take the necessary precautions.”

Makhura said the province has 400 ward-based teams out of 500, which consist of health workers, who are driving awareness campaigns.

Not out of the woods

Dr Mary Kawonga, who is leading the provincial COVID-19 advisory committee, said Gauteng has not reached the peak of infections.

“There’s ongoing transmission of this infection in the population,” Kawonga said, adding that there were still transmissions occurring in areas outside the hotspots.

Kawonga stressed the need to keep medically vulnerable people safe from infection. She stressed the importance of adopting non-pharmaceutical measures to curb the spread. 

“Social distancing is our first point of call. There are situations where we can’t socially distance as well as we’d like to, such as getting into a taxi to get home,” she said, urging people to use masks in public.

Kawonga said people should play their role, as government is doing its part. She appealed to those who are meant to be in isolation or quarantine to adhere to the rules.

“We’ve had reports of people still going out shopping, going out with friends and still visiting when they have COVID-19,” she said, urging people not be lulled into a sense of false security when they start to feel better.

She urged people to avoid gatherings and adhere to the funeral and religious regulations, as the province identifies hotspots that are growing rapidly.