New COVID-19 Cases per week in KwaZulu-Natal

As an epidemiologist living in Pietermartizburg, KwaZulu-Natal, I want to see if the number of new cases of COVID-19 is increasing, stable or decreasing over time in my province and district. This in order to know if things are getting better or worse. Since reporting can vary significantly from day to day it is helpful to look at changes from week to week. When I could not find this information for the different districts anywhere, I decided to keep track of the numbers myself.

As you can see, currently in KwaZulu-Natal and most of the districts the number of new cases is showing a downward trend. However, it was found that fewer tests have been conducted compared to the previous week (almost a third) and the number of cases that could not be allocated to a district has increased (with about 1100).

Because the epidemic began at different times in different provinces, viewing each provincial curve from the same starting point can allow one to more easily compare provinces; the steeper the curve, the quicker more people become infected. The starting point for this graph is the week in which about 1000 new cases were confirmed in each province.

A more reliable indicator of the progress of the epidemic at this point might be the number of people who die of COVID-19. However, the reported number of deaths linked to Covid-19 in South Africa is much lower than the recorded "excess deaths" in the country. Tracking excess mortality is widely seen as way to gauge the full scale of fatalities from Covid-19 as it e.g. includes those suspected of having the coronavirus who died without having been tested.

“Fun never ends. It has always been there. It will be there in future, when Covid– 19 is no longer a problem. But if we disregard precautions we may compromise our lives and those we love."

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala

We can all have a positive impact on the rate of new infections by limiting the number of people we come into contact with daily and lowering the chance of transmission of the virus. Read Distance, Dose, Dispersion: An experts’ guide on Covid-19 risks in South Africa and how to manage them

For myself this means working from home, “meeting” colleagues as well as friends only online, getting groceries delivered. When I go out to exercise, I wear a face mask, keep at least 1.5 metre distance from other people and wash my hands afterwards.