The Covid-19 pandemic is reaching its "peak" in the Western Cape - and the elderly and ill have been urged to lock down.
More than 350 people died in the past week in the province - as the national total edged towards 2 000, from a total of 97 302 positive cases so far. The Western Cape's cases now represent 52.9 % of the national total, with Gauteng at 2nd, on 21.4%, and the Eastern Cape on 16.2%, and the remaining provinces in single digits.
As of Sunday there were 302 people in Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in the province. Until recently, a full 66% of people in ICU in Western Cape hospitals never recovered, and died - in the pandemic so far.
If the same trend continues, 200 of the people currently in ICU may die.
Another 1 299 are in other hospital wards. Trends show around 18 % of all people admitted to hospital so far have died.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, has warned: "Our data however has shown that age and underlying including diabetes and high blood pressure present the greatest risk for becoming seriously ill or dying."
Winde yesterday issued further information, which he headlined: "Preparing for the peak."
"Some epidemiological models, including the National Covid-19 Epi Model (NCEM) which is relied on by the national government for forecasting, have estimated that the province will experience its peak soon.
"While we cannot pinpoint the exact date at which we will reach this peak, we are experiencing increased pressure in our hospitals. At the same time, the economy is opening up further, with personal care services re-opening this weekend and other sectors expected to open soon. Now is therefore the time to be extra vigilant to slow the spread."
As the "peak" hit home, he urged: "People who fall into vulnerable groups must take additional precautions to protect themselves - staying at home as much as possible."
The killer comorbidities which have claimed the most lives, with Covid-19, were named this past week.
Of all those who have died, 52% had diabetes, 19% had high blood pressure, 12% had HIV, 9% had kidney disease, 4% had previously suffered from TB, and 2% had TB currently. Previous statistics by health authorities showed around 65% of people who died had more than one comorbidity.
People with the following illnesses or conditions were also at higher-than-usual risk: cardiac disease, respiratory disease, liver disease, obesity/overweight, organ transplant recipients and recently-diagnosed cancer patients.
But the Western Cape has also detailed its strong recovery rate, 72% - more than 35 000 people who have healed.
"Khayelitsha, which has the second-highest number of reported cases in the province, now has an 81% recovery rate - the highest recovery rate in the (Cape Town) metro. The Tygerberg sub-district, which has the highest number of infections in the province, has a recovery rate of 76%, while Klipfontein, which has the third highest number of infections, has a 73% recovery rate," the provincial government reported.
Winde again issued "precautions you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones":
Regular handwashing and hygiene measures which include coughing into your elbow or a tissue, regular cleaning of surfaces at home or at work, and not touching your face.
Stay at home whenever possible. Do not go to places where groups of people gather unless necessary. Do not visit family or friends to socialise as this could put everyone at risk.
Always keeping a distance of at least 1.5 metres between yourself and any other person when you are not at home. This includes in the workplace, in queues, on public transport or anywhere where people gather.
Wearing a clean, cloth mask whenever you leave home. Wearing your mask correctly and at all times, not only protects you but can prevent you from making others sick.
Stay at home if you feel sick.
Seek medical care if you experience shortness of breath.
If you are over the age of 55 or you have an underlying illness, you are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying. It is therefore important that you take extra precautions and stay home wherever possible.
Those who are healthy should assist those at higher risk with tasks like shopping or errands that require them to leave the house.
Provincial Health Head of Department Dr Keith Cloete has urged mask-wearing as a "behaviour-change", which will be necessary for 12-18 months, until a vaccine is available.
Total confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Western Cape:
Sunday June 14: 40 232
Sunday June 21: 50 067
Sunday June 14: 27 527
Sunday June 21: 35 559
Sunday June 14: 1 048
Sunday June 21: 1 399
Total active cases (currently infected patients):
Sunday June 14: 11 657
Sunday June 21: 13 109
Sunday June 14: 234 868
Sunday June 21: 268 268
On Sunday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize expressed his concern that South Africans would realise the seriousness of Covid-19 "too late".
Writing in the Sunday Times, and repeated later to News24, he admitted: "Every day, I come across people who know of others who have contracted Covid-19 and are either asymptomatic or have mild illnesses. This has created a perception that the disease is innocuous, and therefore there are some who adopt a laid-back approach towards it.
"Dozens are dying daily and others savour each breath on a ventilator and yet this is not evidence enough to make people wary of Covid-19.
"I wonder, then, how we get South Africans to comprehend the difficulty of the situation, the extent to which the infection can cause severe illness or death, and the behavioural changes needed to resume economic activity without worsening the spread of the virus?
"My fear is that by the time these pockets of society come to realise the severity of the virus, it will be far too late. Neglecting the warnings undermines all our efforts to contain the spread and prevent our healthcare facilities from becoming overwhelmed," Mkhize warned.