Cape Town Becomes Center of South Africa’s Virus Pandemic


Clusters of infections contribute to surge in the Western Cape. Contrary to projections, Gauteng has seen slow rise in numbers. By Pauline Bax and Prinesha Naidoo, Bloomberg.

By Pauline Bax and Prinesha Naidoo

May 14, 2020, 9:21 AM GMT+2

Clusters of infections contribute to surge in the Western Cape

Contrary to projections, Gauteng has seen slow rise in numbers

Cape Town Becomes Center of South Africa’s Virus Pandemic. People queue near Cape Town to receive their Social Security Agency grants. Photographer: Pieter Bauermeister/AFP via Getty Images

People queue near Cape Town to receive their Social Security Agency grants. Photographer: Pieter Bauermeister/AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus outbreak in South Africa has hit hardest in the Western Cape, home to the city of Cape Town. The province now has more than half of the 12,074 confirmed cases nationwide and in recent days contributed about 90% of new infections recorded by the Health Ministry.

Steep Increase

Infections in South Africa's Western Cape province have overshot Gauteng

Source: Department of Health

Contrary to initial projections, infections and deaths have increased at a much slower rate in the economic hub of Johannesburg in Gauteng province. The Western Cape and Gauteng together account for about 37% of South Africa’s population. The Western Cape has registered 117 virus-related deaths out of 219 nationwide, and Gauteng 24. Most of the infections and deaths have been in Cape Town, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

While Western Cape authorities attribute the surge in cases to 'a rigorous approach to testing,' the province is facing clusters of infections in households, work places and supermarkets. That explains why the area also has a higher number of people who test positive -- between 7% to 9%, compared to a national average of between 2% to 3%, according to Tulio de Oliveira, a bioinformatician with the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

'Localized outbreaks are common,' De Oliveira said. 'We’ve seen it in nursing homes in the U.K. and recently in nightclubs in South Korea. It’s the normal biology of the virus and it’s happening at a higher frequency in the Western Cape.'

The rest of the country is unlikely to be spared.

'We may eventually see this in other parts of the country,' he said. 'The question isn’t why it hasn’t happened in Gauteng, but why it hasn’t happened yet.'

Follow us @middleeast for more news on the region.

— With assistance by Rene Vollgraaff

News date: 2020-05-16

Links:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-05-14/virus-surge-means-cape-town-home-to-half-of-south-african-cases


KRISP has been created by the coordinated effort of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the South African Medical Research Countil (SAMRC).


Location: K-RITH Tower Building
Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, UKZN
719 Umbilo Road, Durban, South Africa.
Director: Prof. Tulio de Oliveira