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Is this the most ‘contagious’ place in SA? Omicron grips Western Cape district

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Dec 13, 2021

The Central Karoo is a fairly quiet and reserved community, but not even this remote outpost of the Western Cape can escape the clutches of the Omicron variant – which is currently spreading like wildfire in the district.

COVID-19: What is the R rate?

Cases in the Central Karoo skyrocketed from just over 300, to almost 3 000 within a matter of four days last week. That sent the district’s R rate skywards, outpacing the growth rates of anywhere else in the country. The municipalities of Laingsburg, Prince Albert, and Beaufort West have been affected.

The R rate – or reproductive rate – calculates how many people a COVID-positive individual is likely to infect at any given time. When that rate goes over 1.0, it generally ensures the virus can circulate at a quicker pace.

Omicron latest: Central Karoo currently ‘most contagious’ district

So with the Central Karoo currently on a reading of 4.62 for its R rate, alarm bells have started ringing in the Western Cape. The province is following Gauteng’s lead, as cases continue to increase rapidly.

Chart showing the spike in COVID cases for the Central Karoo – Photo: Louis Rossouw

What the R rate tells us about Central Karoo data

Louis Rossouw of the NICD produced the R rate data, giving us a clearer picture of how Omicron is reaching every corner of Mzansi. According to the medical expert, Gauteng’s number has dropped to ‘something like 1.5’.

However, it is figures for the Central Karoo that have turned the most heads this week. Rossouw has explained that, although there are some stumbling blocks in R rate reporting, it certainly plays its part as a monitoring tool:

Many of the district municipalities may have limited cases at any particular point in time and hence reproduction numbers estimated for these may be wide. Care should be taken where confidence intervals are wide.”

“Despite these limitations it is believed that the ease of calculation of this method and the ability to use multiple sources makes it useful as a monitoring tool to track Omicron.”

Louis Rossouw

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