Eastern Cape Covid-19 Stats still a mess

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

The incompetent ANC-led Eastern Cape Government has once again shown that it is still incapable of providing reliable Covid-19 data for the province.

The latest consolidated reports provided to members of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, are riddled with conflicting data, giving two very different sets of figures for active cases in the province.

In the Western Cape, all citizens can access a daily Data Dashboard which is updated in real time and can drill down to infections and transmissions at community level. They have never been kept in the dark or fed incorrect statistics about the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Eastern Cape’s situation is extremely concerning as accurate data is essential if we are to control the spread of the disease and prevent a secondary outbreak that could lead to further lockdown measures and disruptions of the economy that the province can ill afford.

In the 21 August 2020 report, on page 2, it is stated that there were 1420 active cases in the province. This information is corroborated in Table 2 on page 3 of the report. However, on page 9 of the report, a map of the districts with relevant statistics show that there are in fact 2355 active cases in the province. This is almost a thousand more active cases!

Only three of the eight districts had the same number of active cases as presented in the table.

The report for 23 August also has inaccuracies, quoting three differing numbers for the number of active cases, namely 1647 in the highlights section of the report, 1800 in the table and 1796 on the map.

It is no wonder that the provincial department has had to be bolstered by three different teams, flown in from other provinces and even other countries, to try and manage the response to the pandemic.

If the department cannot even fact-check their own statistics and reports, they are certainly not competent enough to manage a critical provincial department where inaccuracies and lack of attention to detail can literally cost people their lives.

The Democratic Alliance has repeatedly called for accurate daily statistics to be released to the public on a Data Dashboard so that people can make their own informed decisions regarding their health.

While a digital dashboard has since been launched, it still remains inaccessible to the public, and for those who can access it, it simply states that the data is “not fully configured”.

I shall once again write to the MEC to request that accurate statistics are released to the public daily.

The MEC for Health must understand that presenting false information to the public about Covid-19 statistics is not going to improve the response to the pandemic, or the public opinion around the response to the pandemic. Too many lives have been lost already.