Nelson Mandela Bay Covid-19 infections double

Mongameli Bobani on ventilator as active cases soar — in one week

Seven days ago, the city had 200 active cases but this had spiralled to 555 by Wednesday
STEADY INCREASE: Seven days ago, the city had 200 active cases but this had spiralled to 555 by Wednesday
Image: 123RF/JARUN ONTAKRAI

The rate of Covid-19 infections in Nelson Mandela Bay has more than doubled in just one week while the number of excess deaths in the Eastern Cape continues to rise.

Included in the latest figure is infrastructure and engineering political head Mongameli Bobani, who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday and is on a ventilator at St George’s Hospital, according to his lawyer, Danie Gouws.

“I am in constant contact with his wife, Nosakhele, and we strongly believe he will overcome this, just like he has overcome so much else in life,” Gouws said.

Nationally, President Cyril Ramaphosa and health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize have warned of a second wave in infections, urging people to continue adhering to regulations.

Mkhize and his wife are in isolation after testing positive for the virus.

The sharp uptick in the caseload in the Bay was revealed by municipal disaster management chair Shane Brown on Thursday, during a safety and security committee meeting.

Seven days ago, the city had 200 active cases but this had spiralled to 555 by Wednesday.

Brown told councillors and officials at the meeting that a second wave was imminent.

The number of our Covid-19 cases [has] dramatically increased in the last week.

“We had been averaging between 15 to 20 cases a day but that has increased.

As of October 21, we had 555 active cases in the metro.

“It’s [more than] double the amount from last week and this is mostly due to non-compliance by shopping centres and scholars.

We’re going to to get a second wave but just how big that will be is up to us,he said.

Brown told councillors and officials to inform him of any businesses transgressing the Covid-19 regulations so they could be dealt with.

DA councillor John Best asked for better communication of Covid-19 information so councillors could be informed of hotspot areas and in turn pass the information on to residents.

EFF councillor Siphokazi Ncana asked Brown for the demographics of virus patients, such as their race, age and gender.

In a report to the committee, Bay acting head of disaster management Henry Lansdown said, in total,  the metro had registered 22,432 confirmed cases, with 1,074 deaths, since the beginning of the outbreak.

The number could be higher because the figures did not take into account people who may have had the virus but were not tested and natural deaths where the deceased were not tested for Covid-19.

The disaster plan of the municipality is in dire need of being updated.

“It is apparent that there is a skills shortage of qualified disaster management practitioners, which must be addressed in the years to come to respond to future disasters,Lansdown said.

Parties, described by experts as potential superspreader events, are fuelling the coronavirus surge in the city.

Though the number of active cases remains relatively low in the metro, testing has slowed down significantly.

The highest number of active cases registered in the city was on July 26, at 13,613.

Dr Siva Pillay, who sits on premier Oscar Mabuyane’s Covid-19 provincial command council, said testing had slowed down as more screening took place.

Testing is being done more strategically now,he said.

Provincial health spokesperson Siyanda Manana said: We test according to the protocols prescribed.

“We test all people for Covid-19 even posthumously.

“The margin of error is very minimal.

“Our approach of tracing and testing is lauded nationally, meaning as the Eastern Cape we are doing something right.”

The latest available data, released by the SA Medical Research Council, showed that the province had recorded 10,489 excess deaths.

This is the second-highest number in the country, surpassed by Gauteng, which recorded 11,909 excess deaths.

DA MPL Jane Cowley said the statistics indicated the pandemic was more prevalent in the province than what was being recorded.

The council establishes the excess death figures by comparing the actual number of deaths with the expected number of deaths based on historical data from 2018 and 2019.

Most of the excess deaths could be attributable to Covid-19, Cowley said.

Covid-19 statistics from the Eastern Cape department of health remain irregular and inaccessible to the public.

The dashboard, which is now functional but seemingly not for public consumption, has updated figures but still refers to bed availability on April 20.” 

She urged health MEC Sindiswa Gomba to release daily information on issues such as hotspots and cluster outbreaks.

Residents need to make informed decisions regarding the risk associated with their daily activities.

Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber president Andrew Muir said it had noticed an uptick in the number of patients occupying hospital beds, particularly in private hospitals.

Muir said some businesses were being complacent in terms of their levels of compliance with the regulations.

While we are seeing a spike and not a peak at this stage, as businesses we need to take heed and ensure that we are being vigilant in complying with the required regulations.

We cannot blame the government if this complacency results in stricter regulations being imposed on us,” he said.

We must do everything in our control to help contain the spread of the virus, thus ensuring that economic activities can continue at the current less stringent alert level 1.

Bobani, meanwhile, thought he was just tired last week, and only consulted with his doctor on Tuesday.

However, he was quickly admitted to the hospital and tested for Covid-19.

His results came back positive on Wednesday.

Gouws said they were praying the former mayor made a full and speedy recovery.

He works hard, which everyone knows already.

“He has worked hard since the start of the pandemic.

“Bobani just assumed he had overdone himself with work at the weekend and needed some well-deserved bed rest.” 

Bobani was the mayor of the city from August 2018 until December 2019.

Gouws said he had only started showing symptoms linked to Covid-19, such as shortness of breath and a headache, on Monday.

He went to the doctor on Tuesday and was tested.

“His oxygen levels have since dropped and he was sedated and placed on a ventilator.”  

Gouws said Bobani had attended Friday’s special council meeting and had not shown any significant signs of the virus at that stage.

He was just tired but we are praying for him.

“His wife is very concerned but he is a strong man and we are convinced he will pull through.” 

Economic development political head Marlon Daniels wished Bobani a speedy recovery.

It is indicative that Covid-19 is still around.

“I don’t believe that a second wave is approaching but rather we have merely stopped testing.” 

He said Bobani’s status demonstrated that the decision to adjourn Friday’s meeting was the correct one.

The meeting was adjourned when councillors pointed out that it had exceeded the four-hour limit for the gathering, set in terms of Covid-19 protocols.

“As the PA, we wish him a speedy recovery.

“Nobody is immune to the onslaught of Covid-19.

“Covid is alive and real.” 

Budget and treasury political head Mkhuseli Mtsila said Bobani’s positive test was a sign that council meetings should be held virtually.

The longer these council meetings go for, the higher the chance of the virus spreading.

“This is unfortunate but true due to this global threat.” 

He wished Bobani a quick recovery.

He is a fighter and will survive. I am certain of that.

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