Western Cape healthcare systems under severe pressure

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Healthcare systems in the Western Cape are under severe pressure, with increased COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths across the province.

There are currently over 34 000 active cases in the Western Cape.

Hospitals in the Cape Metro have reached capacity, with oxygen usage across the province at an all-time high.  Authorities say a total of 2 691 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalised.

A radical intervention is necessary to protect both the private and public healthcare systems. Increase in infections of healthcare workers, hospitals fast running out of critical care beds. And an increase in trauma and alcohol-related emergencies have officials worried.

Western Cape hospital system facing severe strain:

Addressing a virtual media briefing on COVID-19, Head of the Western Cape Health Department, Dr. Keith Cloete, says they are working on introducing a vaccine early in the New Year. Cloete says it has now become urgent that a vaccine be approved in the province.

For now, the province is taking advice on the available vaccines. Once approved, these will be administered to frontline healthcare workers first, followed by essential workers and people with chronic illnesses.

Cloete says the new variant is providing challenges.

“Is there a suggestion that this is more severe than the first one? We do not know at this stage.  Is it re-infecting people who have had COVID before? We do not know.  The question is, will the vaccine that’s coming work against this variant? We do not know yet. Scientists will have to guide us which vaccine, if not all of them, will work against this variant.”

He says more than 700 healthcare workers have been infected while five of them have succumbed to the pandemic in the past two weeks. Premier Alan Winde says he is concerned about the growing numbers.

“We need to ensure that we wear our masks. We need to ensure that we wear our masks properly, not only under the chin as a chin warmer. We need to ensure that if we are outdoor, we keep our functions small. If we keep them outdoors we minimise risk. We all have to play our part now more than ever before.”

Western Cape Minister for Health, Nomafrench Mbombo says the risk of further infections is still high.

“So, we must think about healthcare workers first. We will be asking for volunteers to assist so that’s why we are saying to you that, in as much as this is the issue of social distancing, physical distancing and protecting the economy is always been there, but we never have been competing in that space.”

Meanwhile, numbers are stabilising in the Garden Route. This is after a spike in the number of cases in the district.

Public facilities, venues along Garden Route closed: