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Social gatherings are ‘super-spreaders’ of COVID-19


Social gatherings are driving the sharp rise in coronavirus infections, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.

When addressing the nation on Monday evening, the President singled out the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng as the four provinces that are leading the second wave.

“Gatherings – especially social gatherings and parties – are the largest source of outbreaks.

“In many of these gatherings, social distancing is not being observed, venues are crowded and not adequately ventilated, hand sanitiser is not readily available, and people are not wearing masks.

“Many people consume alcoholic drinks at these ‘super-spreader’ events, with the result that people become less careful about taking measures to protect themselves and prevent infection,” he said.

For the first time in this pandemic, the President said most of the new infections are among young people, particularly those in the age group of 15 to 19 years.

He said there are probably many reasons for this massive spike in infections, but saying that some key contributors are now becoming clearer.

“The recent post-matric Rage Festival event in Ballito is a harsh reminder of how dangerous large gatherings can be.

“We now know that nearly 1,000 young people from Gauteng who attended the event have tested positive for the coronavirus. What we don’t yet know is how many more people each of them has infected. It is said that up to 300 families could in turn have been infected,” he said.

According to the President, another factor in the rise in infections is increased travel. He said many people do not observe prevention measures as they move within cities, towns and rural areas, and between different areas.

“We have to recognise that the more we travel, the greater the potential for the spread of the virus.

“That means wearing a mask when you are in public transport and making sure that the windows are open at all times.

“It also means reducing the number of people that you spend time with if you are travelling to visit family and friends in other parts of the country.

“It is safer to socialise with your immediate family than with large gatherings that could cause the virus to spread,” he said.

Earlier this month (December 3, 2020), South Africa recorded over 4,400 new cases eleven days later, the country recorded nearly 8,000 new cases.

The President told the nation that cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa now stands at 866,127, further describing the figures as a cause for great concern.

There can no longer be any doubt – the country has entered a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Given the rate at which new cases have grown over the last two weeks, there is every possibility that if we do not act urgently and if we do not act together, the second wave will be more severe than the first wave.

The daily average of new cases nationally over the last 7 days is 74% higher than the previous 7 days.

In this time, the number of new cases has increased from a daily average of around 3,800 to just over 6,600 a day.

The daily average of COVID-19 deaths has increased by nearly 50% over the same period from just over 100 deaths a day to just over 150 deaths.