Surveillance key to responding to COVID-19 second wave, says health expert

A national second wave task team, which includes several Western Cape epidemiologists, has been set up to further track the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

FILE: A City of Tshwane Health official takes a nasal swab to test for the COVID-19 coronavirus on a taxi operator at the Bloed Street Mall in Pretoria Central Business District, on 11 June 2020. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN – A national second wave task team, which includes several Western Cape epidemiologists, has been set up to further track the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provincial health officials on Thursday joined Premier Alan Winde for a digital press conference to provide an update on the province’s health systems and its hot spot strategy interventions.

The Western Cape continues to record declining positivity rates, deaths and hospitalisations for COVID-19.

Other indicators, such as oxygen usage, also point to a continued decline, even in the two weeks since the country moved to alert level 2.

Currently, COVID-19 admissions to acute hospitals in the Cape Metro account for 9% of all hospital admissions.

The Western Cape Health Department’s Professor Mary-Ann Davies: “The thinking of this task team and within the province is that it is almost impossible to predict whether we’ll have a second wave, when it will come, where it will be and how big it will be.

“We’ll obviously monitor the global experiences and try to learn from them but we also need to bear in mind that our particular patterns of geography and inequity and heterogeneity mean that what we see here is quite different and so surveillance is absolutely critical.”

Davies said that having a good vigilance and surveillance strategy was central to being able to safely open up the economy and reduce restrictions.

“If we can be confident that we will be able to detect any resurgence quickly, then we can feel a lot more comfortable about opening up and knowing how to target any strategies should we see an increase in cases.”

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