Western Cape Premier Alan Winde wants the province to move to level 3 lockdown “as soon as possible, preferably before the end of May.”
In a statement on Thursday, Winde said his provincial government will use the process of consultations announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday to state this position.
“With our health care system prepared, it is simply no longer possible to maintain level 4 restrictions anywhere in the Western Cape or South Africa. The economic crisis caused by these restrictions has resulted in a life-threatening humanitarian disaster that will only worsen in the months ahead,” he said.
Level 3 for most, level 4 for others
In his address to the nation, Ramaphosa reiterated his warning that lifting the lockdown too abruptly and quickly could result in “a rapid and unmanageable surge in infections.”
He added, “For now, infections are mostly concentrated in a few metropolitan municipalities and districts in the country.
“It is important that we maintain stringent restrictions in these areas and restrict travel out of these areas to parts of the country with lower rates of infection.
“We will immediately begin a process of consultation with relevant stakeholders on a proposal that by the end of May, most of the country be placed on alert level 3, but that those parts of the country with the highest rates of infection remain on level 4.”
‘Targeted hotspots plan’
However, Winde said Western Cape has adopted a “data-led, evidence-based approach” which targets hotspots to “slow the spread and protect vulnerable groups of people who are at high risk.”
He claimed Ramaphosa’s address showed that the national government had adopted his targeted hotspots plan.
“This focused effort of government, in partnership with the private sector and every person, will help us slow the spread and save lives, while still allowing more economic activity and protecting the livelihoods of especially our poor and vulnerable residents.
“In conjunction with the determined enforcement of this hotspot plan, Alert Level 3 should be adopted for the entire Western Cape province,” Winde said.
According to Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize’s update on Wednesday, Western Cape remains the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak with 6,713 confirmed cases out of 12,074 in South Africa.
Out of the 724 new cases confirmed on Wednesday, Western Cape accounted for 608. On the positive side, the province had 2,283 recoveries.