With a surge both in confirmed cases and deaths, the authorities of Western Cape province in South Africa pointed out Thursday a major problem that many infected people are refusing to be quarantined.
“The Western Cape is experiencing very high rejection rates to be admitted to Q&I (quarantine and isolation) facilities,” the province reported in an update on the province’s response to the pandemic.
As of Thursday, the Western Cape, the country’s COVID-19 epicenter, recorded 56,780 cases with 1,652 deaths, compared with 118,375 cases and 2,292 deaths nationwide.
The province has 4,766 Q&I facilities, among them more than 3,700 were still empty, according to official data. “Sufficient capacity is in place currently for anyone who needs to be quarantined or isolated,” the province said.
Many infected people are refusing to be quarantined or isolated due to concerns ranging from not being able to drink, smoke or have sex to worries about their homes and stigma if word gets out that they have the virus, according to the provincial government.
To help persuade people to go into quarantine and isolation, the province has ramped up communication strategies, engagement with local leaders, public messaging by local personalities and behavior-change strategies, according to Western Cape Governor Allan Winde.
Meanwhile, as the province is expecting an infection peak in the last week of June, which could last for two to four weeks, the government has been building a dozen refrigerated containers for possible mass fatalities due to the virus, the authorities said on Thursday.
The facility for mass-fatality, being built near Tygerberg Hospital designated for COVID-19 patients in Cape Town, will be able to store 770 COVID-19 corpses, the provincial government said. In addition, the Western Cape authorities reportedly were preparing several burial sites for almost 9,000 people who are expected to succumb to the disease.