South Africa’s Western Cape province, home to tourist hub Cape Town, is experiencing a resurgence of Covid-19 infections, its premier said on Wednesday after new cases jumped 52.1% in the past week.
The Western Cape emerged as Africa’s first regional hotspot towards the end of March when the new coronavirus spread via tourists into local communities, following the first confirmed positive case in South Africa earlier that month.
“The Western Cape government is deeply concerned about the growing number of Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations in the province, which can now be considered as an established resurgence,” premier Alan Winde said in a statement.
Issuing a hotspot alert for the City of Cape Town’s metro of around 4.5 million people, Winde said a resurgence occurred when the number of active cases increased week-on-week by more than 20%.
“There is also now established community transmission of the virus again in this province, which means that it is spreading within communities at a faster rate,” he said, adding that since the start of November, Covid-19 hospitalisations across the province have increased by 63%.
As of Wednesday, there were 962 hospitalisations in the province, with 183 patients in intensive care units, Winde said. The total number of infections had reached 126,362.
South Africa has recorded the highest number of coronavirus infections on the African continent, with more than 760,000 confirmed cases and more than 20,000 deaths.
The country’s lockdown restrictions were eased to their loosest in September after the rate of new cases fell.
On Tuesday, Reuters exclusively reported that the South African government is joining the COVAX global Covid-19 vaccine distribution scheme, with a committed purchase for 10% of its population of 58 million.