Friday, 08 May 2020

COVID-19 and Cape Town: What went wrong?

  • Year: 2020
  • Author(s): Neva Makgetla (TIPS)

From 2 May to 5 May, the Western Cape accounted for three quarters of new COVID-19 cases in South Africa, although it makes up only a seventh of the population. On 5 May, the incidence of COVID-19 in the Western Cape was 52.4 per 100 000 population, compared to 7.6 per 100 000 in the rest of the country. The Western Cape's high share of new cases reflected the rapid growth in infections there, almost exclusively in Cape Town. The fastest rates of increase have been reported in Tygerberg, (which includes Langa) followed by Khayelitsha and Klipfontein (which includes Nyanga and Gugulethu). The number of known cases in the Western Cape rose at 9.4% a day from 20 April to 5 May; in the rest of the country, it climbed at 3.5% a day. At that rate, the number of cases is doubling every week, compared to a doubling rate of three weeks in the rest of the country.

This policy brief points to the need for urgent action to address the spread of COVID-19 in Cape Town. In that context, it raises a number of questions that might help in understanding the relatively rapid spread of COVID-19 in Cape Town, and by extension the changes needed in how the contagion is handled there.

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