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Tag: Cape Town

How To Survive a Fire

Several fires have been causing destruction across South Africa in the past week.  Hundreds of families were left homeless and salvaging their belongings after a fire in the Gazine Informal Settlement near the Kwa Mai Mai market in Johannesburg caught fire.  At least 9 people were killed in the fire.

More recently the fire at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital made headlines as 0ver 700 people were evacuated from the building.   The most recent fire is still raging in Cape Town.  It has destroyed several buildings and parts of the University of Cape Town. Today, 4 firefighters were injured while battling the blaze.

 

 

 

 

With winter fast approaching, it is important to be aware of the dangers of runaway fires.  Informal settlements often fall victim to fires, mostly caused by burning candles or paraffin lamps, or heaters.  As the winter season approaches, informal settlements fall victim to fires because of candles and heating devices.

WILDFIRES:

Uncontrolled wildfires spread quickly, especially on very hot and dry, windy days. If you do become trapped in your vehicle, car, or outside during a forest fire, you need to know how you can protect yourself.

• If you’re outside, hiking, or elsewhere, and realise you may be in danger, cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth or piece of clothing.
• If you are unsure of which way to run and can’t tell where the fire is coming from, try to find an area without any bush or vegetation or plants.
• If you know of a body of water nearby, get to it so that you can put it between yourself and the fire.
• Alternatively you can find a ditch or a low spot on the ground; keep low by lying face down and covering your body with things like wet clothing, soil, or mud.
• Call for emergency services immediately and inform your friends and family where you are by sending them a pin location.

AT HOME:

• GET OUT AND STAY OUT.

• Shout “FIRE!” several times and go outside right away. Call emergency services.  If you live in a building with elevators, ALWAYS use the stairs. Leave all your belongings where they are and save your own life, it is more important.
• If closed doors or handles are warm to the touch or smoke blocks your primary escape route, use your second way out. Never open any doors that are warm to the touch.
• After the evacuation, meet the rest of the family members in a pre-determined location and remain there until everyone in the household is safely outside or rescued.

 

IF THE AREA AROUND YOU IS ON FIRE:

• Fill all sinks, bathtubs, and other large containers with cold water.
• Keep doors and windows closed, but do NOT lock them.
• Move furniture and curtains away from the windows and doors.
• If you can manage to do it safely, use a garden hose or sprinkler (or turn on your irrigation system) to wet the walls of your house and the outside grounds.
• Stay as far away as possible from flammable items.

IN THE CAR:

• Drive to a place as far away from foliage and other flammable materials as possible.
• Find an open clearing to park in.
• Close your windows and air vents because to avoid smoke getting into your vehicle
• Lie on the floor of your car, cover yourself with clothing or a blanket and call emergency services.
• Let your loved ones know where you are by sending a pin location.

In life-threatening situations, it’s important to protect yourself. Your life is always more important than possessions.

Lock down SA

Eased Lockdown Restrictions Include Open Beaches

Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, says he has written to the minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize to request that some lockdown restrictions be eased in the province in an effort to save jobs. Winde said that the request was based on evidence and data, setting out the province’s current Covid-19 statistics, the fact that it has now exited its second wave peak, as well as details of health interventions.

“We also set out data on the economic and human cost of some of these restrictions, and how ultimately, they are costing jobs,” he said.

“From the outset, we said that we need to get the balance right in saving both lives and livelihoods, and that the restrictions announced now more than 21 days ago needed to be reviewed after 14 days, based on the evidence available.”

Changes that Winde has suggested includes:

  • Beaches should be opened. Winde said that open spaces with good ventilation are safer and they do not constitute a high risk. With the festive season over and people back at work, traffic on the beaches are also considerably less.
  • Curfew hours should be changed to 23h00 to 04h00 as the current curfew makes it impossible for restaurants to provide a dinner service.  Restaurants have to close early to allow for cleanup and enough time for staff members to get home.  Winde believes that establishments should be allowed to remain open until 22:00.
  • Alcohol sales should be permitted off-site from Monday to Thursday, but not permitted on the weekend.
  • Alcohol sales should be permitted at wine farms during weekends, as this is the time when most visitors come to wine farms.
  • On-site alcohol consumption should be allowed. Winde stated that if restaurants cannot sell alcohol with dinner service, they will not remain profitable and will be forced to close. This will result in many job losses.

In a media briefing Mkhize said that South Africa is beginning to see the benefits of its latest level 3 lockdown and its ability to manage a second surge in Covid-19 cases. Mkhize said that the first ‘green shoots’ are appearing and that the country appears to be nearing an ‘inflection point’ and plateau in Covid-19 cases. He however warned that a resurgence of cases could happen, especially with holidaymakers having returned to Gauteng.

“We are hoping that what we are seeing now is an indications that (cases) will start declining and we need to see next week whether there is any new impact from people coming back from the festive season.

“This is what we thought the real pressure could come from, but the adjusted level 3 restrictions have actually assisted a lot.”

Cele to report back to Coronavirus council after visiting Cape Town beaches

Police Minister Bheki Cele has raised the alarm over what he describes as the reckless behaviour exhibited by some bathers on Cape Town’s beaches.  Cele visited a number of beaches on Wednesday in Cape Town along with police officials and other law enforcement to check if beachgoers are sticking to health safety regulations.

Dozens of people went to their favourite Cape Town seaside spots to enjoy the sunny weather on the public holiday.  At Camps Bay, a City Disaster Risk Management official uses a loudhailer to keep coronavirus mitigating measures top of mind: “You’re expected to wear a mask in a public space, you are reminded to keep social distancing. Please wear your mask, which should cover your nose and mouth.”

Cele said many people wore masks and practiced social distancing, but later in the day as crowds grew bigger, some failed to keep up with measures introduced to keep coronavirus infections at bay.  “The country’s first Reconciliation Day under lockdown level 1 on our beaches was less busy than usual. Those that came out to swim, many did wear their masks and practiced social distancing. However, as the day progressed, the numbers increased and in some beaches, there was a total disregard of the health protocols which is worrying.”

He said he would report his observations to the National Coronavirus Command Council.  “If it’s going to give us trouble from the beginning, we have to go back and say please do what other provinces have done.”

Cele reiterated the importance of the public honouring these measures, to avoid the closure of beaches due to non-compliance.  All beaches that are open to the public can be accessed from 9 am until 6 pm.

Partygoers cram into Cape Town venue – sparking ‘super-spreader’ fears

For those of us trying our best to follow the rules and keep COVID-19 at a minimum, these scenes won’t just have you shaking your head – you might end up giving yourself whiplash. A venue in Cape Town has been blasted to high heaven, after they held an event that flouted a number of Level 1 regulations.

The band GoodLuck were booked to play at La Parada in Constantia Nek on Sunday. But rather than conducting a COVID-compliant event, the popular drinking spot devolved into a pandemic party: Masks were at a premium, social distancing was non-existent, and the rules on indoor gatherings were also being strongly tested.

What’s truly mortifying about this clip is that, had it been uploaded it without any date or context, you could be mistaken for thinking this event had taken place a year ago, before COVID-19 came to our shores. The dancefloor was rammed on Sunday evening, as the festive jol got out of control pretty quickly…

Interestingly enough, La Parada’s Twitter page has been deactivated. As you’d expect, the backlash on social media has been utterly fierce. The venue has copped a lot of flak for the apparent disregard of lockdown regulations, and some fear that this ill-judged shindig could create another ‘super-spreader event’ in Cape Town.

 

The Rage Parties Raging On

South Africans have been left raging after a series of post-matric parties that allegedly disregarded all COVID-19 health protocols, creating several super-spreader events across the country. Plettenberg Bay, Johannesburg, and Jeffery’s Bay have all been affected – but it seems that KZN will bear the brunt of the reckless behaviour.

Professor Tulio de Oliveira, a medical expert, did not sugarcoat the gravity of the situation. Speaking about the specific threat to KZN and Durban, he confirmed that the second wave has been ‘fast-tracked’ in the province due to the events. The health analyst claimed that two Ballito legs of the Rage parties were a ‘much bigger’ problem than the infamous Tin Roof outbreak in CPT.

“We are really worried. It’s looking like this super-spreader event will really fast-track a second wave in KwaZulu-Natal. There has been a massive increase of 800 new cases in the provinces. It’s almost doubling every week.”

“I don’t know how we’ve got here. We are still investigating the infamous outbreak at the Tin Roof in Cape Town. But make no mistake, this is a much bigger event – one doctor has told me he encountered 40 new COVID-19 cases in teenagers this weekend alone.”

“The festive season will not be so festive. We urge people to reconsider their travel plans, and to avoid any large gatherings. Some of our biggest private hospitals in Durban are filling up. We expect infection rates to increase really, really quickly over the next week or so.”

The Department of Health has also voiced its concerns for the KZN region. While identifying the Rage parties as super-spreader events on Sunday, it was revealed that ICU units in Durban are now at ‘full capacity’.

“It is clear that in these entertainment activities, most participants are not constantly conscious of good behaviour. This means that our youth is not only exposing themselves to the risk of contracting COVID-19, but they also put the lives of their parents, grandparents and other loved ones living with co-morbidities at risk.”

“We also encourage all participants of these super-spreader events to download and interact with the COVID-Alert App as part of our contact tracing efforts. It is also worth noting reports we have received that a few private hospitals in Durban now have full ICU’s.”

A stern, sombre warning is now in place for KZN: It’s infection rates have nearly doubled in the last seven days, with hospital admission figures also spiking. The data, which features the updated cases following Ballito Rage, is likely to draw some more grim conclusions over the next week – and you can expect the number of COVID-19 deaths to rise again:

Covid-19: How Coronavirus came to Cape Town.

There were multiple, possibly hundreds of introductions of the novel coronavirus virus to Cape Town from foreign travellers before the country closed its borders in mid-March, scientists have found, Business Insider Reported.

The scientists from Durban and Stellenbosch studied the genetic fingerprints of viruses isolated from 46 Cape Town patients diagnosed early in the epidemic. Within that sample, about 10% of the total cases at the time, they could prove at least nine separate importations, most of them from Europe.

 But the true number is likely to be higher, the scientists say. The virus could have arrived with hundreds of travellers, possibly sealing the city’s fate as South Africa’s first coronavirus outbreak epicentre.

“There were many introductions in Cape Town that spread to the population early,” says Tulio de Oliveira, director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform, one of the scientists who worked on the data.

The scientists made use of the fact that viruses leave a track of breadcrumbs, in the form of genetic mutations, as they replicate and spread. Such mutations are usually harmless, but create indelible tracks in the genetic code, or genome, of the virus as it spreads.

From the start of the coronavirus outbreak, scientists around the world have uploaded viral genomes to a global database that now holds more than 60,000 sequences.

That effort allows them to trace a virus’ journey across the globe.

The Cape Town analysis shows that there were several introductions from the Netherlands, which mirrors that country’s close historical and cultural connections with South Africa.

 Other introductions can be traced to Australia and the United Kingdom. The timing of the introductions, estimated as February and March, is part of Cape Town’s peak tourist season.

One of the Dutch introductions acquired a unique mutation before going on to cause a cluster outbreak in a supermarket in Cape Town. That mutation will help scientists trace where the virus goes next.

A similar mutation has been discovered from the large cluster outbreak at St Augustine’s Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.

Keeping track of such mutations will allow South African scientists to understand better how the virus spreads within cities, provinces, and the country. So far, the Cape Town mutation has not been detected in any other province, de Oliveira says.

The data also holds lessons for policymakers. De Oliveira says it shows that South Africa failed to isolate and control clustered outbreak early on in the epidemic, suggesting that the early focus on community screening may have been misplaced, he says.

“Community screening may have used valuable resources to find very little infections, we could have used the same resources—100,000s of tests and health care workers—to control localised outbreaks,” he says.

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