29 July 2020
“All indications are that the Western Cape Covid-19 pandemic is stabilizing & starting to decline in some areas – but we must be vigilant”
At today’s digitial press conference, the Western Cape Government provided an update on our health response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our teams have been working around the clock to ensure that our health systems are prepared to provide care to every single person, should they need it.
From the very beginning, we understood that the Hard Lockdown was necessary to buy us time to do this. We have not taken this responsibility for granted, and I am extremely grateful to every single person who worked with determination and speed to ensure we could provide the best possible services to all our people.
Evidence-based, data-led approach to the pandemic
The Western Cape has adopted an evidence-based, data-led approach to this unprecedented health emergency. Following top scientific advice, and using provisioning scenarios, we have planned for the worst, but intervened to ensure the best possible outcome. This is the responsibility of a caring government.
Part of this process is to continuously assess the data to ensure that we are on the right track, and that we have all the resources needed to provide the care needed.
A stabilization of the pandemic, with a decline in some areas – but extra vigilance now needed to prevent new flare-ups
Our Western Cape Department of Health has been studying a number of indicators available to us, including the positivity rate of Covid-19 tests, the number of new Covid-19 deaths, the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations in both the public and private sector, and the number of infected healthcare workers to ascertain trends in the pandemic.
All indications (from this data) are that the pandemic has started to stabilize in the Western Cape, with a decline in some areas being experienced (we are noticing different paces in different areas).
While this is good news, it does not mean that we can rest on our laurels. On the contrary, it means we must be even more vigilant. We must keep our curve moving in the right direction, in all areas – downwards. If we let our foot off the pedal now, and don’t continue to change our behaviour, then we risk new flare-ups and an acceleration of cases in the future. We cannot allow this to happen.
My message to our residents is therefore to take hope from this latest data and use it to be more determined than ever before to change your behaviour. We can all make a real difference by following the golden rules at all time, including:
- Wearing a mask whenever in public
- Washing your hands regularly with soap and water, or by using hand sanitizer
- Keeping a good distance from others, of at least 1.5 metres
- Cleaning surfaces in your home and workplace
- By not touching your face, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- By staying home when sick and calling our hotline (021 928 4102) for advice (those with difficulty breathing and diabetic residents must seek medical care immediately).
The Western Cape Government will continue to intervene to slow the spread of the virus, using our All-of-Government, Hotspot Containment Strategy. The fight is not over: it must continue with the same rigour and determination as before.
Update on Testing
As a result of the Western Cape Government’s targeted testing strategy focussed on vulnerable groups, we have been able to prevent a backlog of tests at the NHLS. This has meant that there has been quick turnaround of test results.
The average turnaround times are as follows:
- 46 hours at a clinic
- 41 hours at a Community Development Centre
- 27 hours at a Community Healthcare Centre
- 23 hours at our hospitals
This turnaround time is allowing our health experts to intervene quicker and provide life-saving treatment where necessary.
I want to extend a thank you to the teams at the NHLS and other labs for their contribution to the fight against Covid-19.
The Western Cape’s Diabetes Action Plan – early results are promising
As a type 2 diabetic, who has also been infected with Covid-19, the Western Cape’s Diabetes Action Plan has been very close to my heart. I am therefore very pleased to report that early results from the project are promising.
Diabetic patients who test positive for Covid-19 are contacted by our teams, and where necessary, hospitalised at the Hospital of Hope before their condition worsens. This allows for our healthcare workers to monitor their condition and ensure life-saving care is provided should they deteriorate.
Initial feedback from this project is as follows:
- 152 diabetic patients have been contacted by the clinical team
- 63 diabetic patients have then been hospitalised
- 40 of these patients have been discharged (63%), with 3 of the patients dying (4,7%)
- None of the 20 patients currently admitted are in clinical distress
This is extremely promising. Our initial data suggested that 42% of all diabetic patients admitted to hospital died. This data therefore suggests that early diagnosis and healthcare does make a big difference for this high-risk group.
The Western Cape Department of Health will publish a detailed report on these findings in due course.
Healthcare system platform update
The early indication that the pandemic is starting to ease in some areas of the Western Cape is reflected in our healthcare services platform capacity.
- The Hospital of Hope (862 beds), has admitted 1366 patients to date, and currently has 139 patients admitted. There have been 1150 discharges, and 77 deaths at this field hospital to date.
- The Brackengate Intermediate Care Facility (338 beds) has admitted 82 patients, and currently has 17 patients admitted. There have been 65 discharges and no deaths to date.
- The Thusong Centre, Khayelitsha (60 beds) has admitted 234 patients, with 21 currently admitted. There have been 176 discharges and 31 deaths to date.
- Our fourth facility, Sonstraal Hospital, should start accepting patients by 10 August 2020.
- In the Metro, the public health platform for all patients (Covid-19 and non-Covid-19) is currently at 71%.
While the platform has pressures, it is coping with the demands on it.
The Western Cape’s second “unemployment” pandemic
During today’s press conference I made clear that the Western Cape Government is committed to fighting the second, equally serious unemployment pandemic taking root in our province.
From the very beginning, I have argued that we should not treat our Covid-19 response as a zero-sum game. We can save lives now and do so in a way that will also save lives in the future.
The reality is that we are facing a serious humanitarian crisis in the Western Cape, as tens of thousands of people lose their jobs, and access to income. A job is not a ‘nice-to-have’: it is the difference between putting food on the table and starving.
We have to work with the private sector and businesses to ensure that they open safely, to slow the spread of the virus. And where they can open safely, we must allow them to do so.
For this reason, I have written to the Minster of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to request a meeting to discuss the impact of regulations on the Western Cape’s economy and dire consequences it is having on our most vulnerable communities.
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