A word from our chair

Wear that Mask – for your grandmother, your grandfather, your parents, your children, your friends, for everyone!

Dear Obs residents

Yesterday I went jogging, as I do when I have time, to keep reasonably fit. I put on my mask and am used now to jogging with a mask in public spaces, though I found it uncomfortable at first. I wear a mask to protect others, not just because it is the law. But I am always profoundly disappointed when I see Observatory residents walking or running in public without wearing a mask. Not even wearing a mask improperly down below their chin. Simply not caring that it is important to wear a mask.

Why am I writing this? Because yesterday I also got an email from a friend and colleague, in desperation, trying to arrange for volunteers to assist doctors and nurses in Mitchell’s Plain hospital who are being overwhelmed by the rapid rise in patients with COVID-19. They are so frantically busy that they don’t have time to call patients’ families to tell them how their family members are doing. So, my colleague is trying to organise volunteers to help take the load off these health professionals who are so busy, they can’t do what they know they should do – to talk to their patients’ family members. And while our cases are rising, we are nowhere near our peak in the Western Cape. The storm that is raging in Gauteng is on its way to the Western Cape, make no mistake. The Delta variant of the virus is much more infectious and we are far from any immunity.

Here’s the evidence:

  • In the last week of April, the City of Cape Town saw about 90 cases of COVID-19 every day and about 5 deaths every day
  • In the last week of May, the City saw about 240 cases per day but the death rate stayed at about 5 to 6 every day
  • In the last week of June, there were more than 1000 cases of COVID diagnosed every day and about 26 deaths on average every day.
  • A of Sunday 4 July, there were 1240 cases of COVID diagnosed every day and 35 deaths on average every day.

  • The province as a whole is reporting almost 2000 cases every day and 120 deaths currently
  • About 120 new cases of COVID 19 are currently being admitted to hospitals across the metro every day – needing oxygen, needing care, some needing intensive care. Our hospital are straining.

And we are nowhere near our peak so these figures are escalating by the day.

Our health workers have to have every resource available to them to prevent people dying from COVID-19 because there is a tsunami coming. And time is a precious resource, when you are frantically trying to save lives and not endanger your own. Imagine being so busy, you have the time to phone someone’s family member to tell them how their loved one is doing?

Our vaccine roll out has only just scratched the surface, so the measures of social distancing, hand-washing/sanitising and wearing of masks remain our most critical measures to prevent spread. Remember, your mask wearing will reduce you transmitting the virus to others if you have an asymptomatic infection. It is not a measure to protect you from someone else. You wear the mask to protect others, and others wear a mask to protect you. There is no clearer illustration of how we have to behave as a collective, in the spirit of ubuntu, to protect each other.

For that reason, I cannot understand why some Observatory residents think this is not their problem and don’t wear masks. If it was a case of choosing to behave in a way that is a risk to your own health (and we can name many of those), it’s one thing. But behaving in a way that puts others at risk, is incomprehensible to me. When a 70 year-old grandfather is infected because their grandchild acquired an asymptomatic infection from someone who shared a space with them without wearing a mask and transmitted an asymptomatic infection to them, it a chain of transmission that can lead to death.

Yet the couple who entered the subway yesterday, maskless, untroubled by the mayhem at Mitchells Plain District Hospital, overrun with COVID-19 patients in extremis, are on another planet.

We are heading for the Gauteng storm. Observatory came together to feed our people living on the street during earlier waves. Come together now to save lives. Wear that mask to save lives. Please!

Leslie London – OCA chair


The national roll out of the Vaccination Programme continues. Those over 50 are eligible to be vaccinated and can register on the EVDS portal.

Once registered, you will received an SMS with an EVDS number. You need that number and your ID to get vaccinated. You can get more information on how to register on the Western Cape Health Department website.

You can either wait for the EVDS to SMS you with your appointment or you can try to do a ‘walk-in’ by attending a nearby vaccination centre that is accepting walk-ins. Because of many no-shows, many vaccination sites (both in public and private) will accept walk-ins so that their vaccines don’t go to waste. (Once drawn up and/or defrosted, the vaccine must be used within a certain time period.)

If you go to a public vaccination centre, it will be free. If you choose to go to a private vaccination centre without an EVDS appointment, they you or your medical aid will be charged. Whether you go by appointment or not, you MUST HAVE your EVDS number and your ID document with you.

The full list of vaccination centres in South Africa is on the SA Corona Website, including both public and private sites.

Public sites nearby are the Hope Street Dental Clinic in Gardens and the District Six Community Health Centre.

Private sites are set up often by pharmacies. For example, in the Riverside Centre in Rondebosch, a pharmacy has set up an authorised vaccination centre.

Please take up the opportunity to be vaccinated. There is a lot of misinformation out there that will cast doubts on vaccinations. Please remember:

  1. The side effects of vaccination are generally mild.
  1. Serious side effects are extremely rare (e.g. one in a million). The risk of blood clotting in the brain that was picked in the US has not been reported at all in South Africa despite more than 3 million doses being given.
  1. Vaccines are effective. They are not totally (100%) effective but they will reduce infections by about 60% and they will prevent severe COVID-19 disease for 80% of people vaccinated. This means that even if you do get COVID-19 after vaccination, you are more likely to get a mild infection. This is the same for many vaccines. For example, the ordinary flu vaccine is also less than 100% effective. We still take it if we are at risk.
  1. Everyone is at risk for COVID-19 infection. Not everyone is at risk for dying from COVID-19. Your getting the vaccine will not only help you but it will help others because the more people vaccinate, there will be less transmission to people who are at risk of dying should they get COVID-19.

More information on vaccination is available on the Western Cape Health Department Website.