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WC encouraged by the continued decline in Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions

The Western Cape government said that with the summer season fast approaching, it has been encouraging to see that Covid-19 cases, admissions and deaths continue to decline.

During the Western Cape Premier Alan Winde’s weekly digicon on the pandemic health and vaccine rollout strategy, the province reviewed the impact of the third wave compared to previous waves.

Provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete said: “Our analysis shows us that the third wave was associated with a 9% increased risk of death in Covid-19 cases, but that the risk was 26% higher among those unvaccinated.

“Over a 12-week period during the third wave, those aged 50 years and older accounted for 30% of cases, 60% of hospital admissions and 83% of deaths,” he said.

“While being over 50 years old and having comorbidities has consistently remained the greatest risk factor for hospital admission and deaths in all waves, our analysis further shows us that there was a decrease in cases and admissions in the older age groups who were vaccinated.

“This means the best defence for those 50 years and older, or with comorbidities, is to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure that we reduce pressure on our healthcare platform in subsequent waves and prevent deaths,” Cloete said.

The province stressed that it was important to remain vigilant so that we could have a summer to look forward to.

The healthcare platform shows that across the province:

  • The proportion of positive Covid-19 tests has decreased to 4%. This is compared to 42% at its highest point on 26 July 2021.
  • The province is currently seeing an average of 127 new diagnoses a day. This is compared to 3543 at its highest point on 17 August 2021.
  • The province is currently seeing an average of 31 new admissions and six deaths each day. This is down from 362 new admissions and around 122 deaths at its highest point on 1 August and 30 July 2021, respectively.

“To ensure that we have a safe and enjoyable break, we will need to play our part and continue practising the lifesaving behaviours that we have learnt to prevent infection in the coming weeks and months,” Winde said.

The province said that it’s planning for the third wave had ensured that they had enough beds and oxygen capacity going forward.

“In preparing for the third wave, we revised our planning with clearly identified trigger points to ensure an agile response.

“This careful planning has ensured that our healthcare platform can meet the demands placed on it throughout the wave, despite the pressure faced,” Cloete said.

Insofar as the acute service platform is concerned:

  • Currently, there are 1406 Covid-19 patients in our acute hospitals, including 684 in public hospitals and 722 in private hospitals. This excludes persons under investigation and cases in specialised hospital settings.
  • The metro hospitals have an average bed occupancy rate of 91%; George drainage area hospitals at 72%; Paarl drainage area hospitals at 66% and Worcester drainage area hospitals at 67%. Critical care bed occupancy rate for designated Covid-19 beds for the province stands at 33%.
  • Covid-19 and persons under investigation cases currently make up 5% of all available acute general hospital capacity in both Metro and Rural Regional Hospital drainage areas.
  • Covid-19 inter-mediate care: the Brackengate Hospital of Hope currently has 46 patients or a 13.69% bed occupancy rate, Sonstraal currently has two clients or a 10.29% bed occupancy rate; and Freesia and Ward 99 have no patients.

In line with decreased Covid-19 pressure on the healthcare platform, the province has now decommissioned the Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope and the Metro Mass Fatality Centre. Additional capacity remains available when required.

“The previous waves have taken a significant toll on our healthcare workers, who have worked long hours, been at higher risk of infections, and who have also lost loved ones, including family and colleagues, to the virus.

“Ensuring their wellbeing and safety is critical in our response to the pandemic, which is why we have already begun our workforce planning ahead of the fourth wave,” Cloete said.

The province’s workforce planning includes:

  • Currently, there are 781 additional staff appointed for the Western Cape’s Covid-19 response;
  • The province has appointed 1459 healthcare workers and support staff which includes 610 interns for the vaccination drive;
  • The province has also extended contracts until the end of December to ensure continued staff capacity for the health platform in anticipation of a fourth wave; and
  • A total of 785 applicants can still be appointed if needed

Cloete also said that the province is further supporting healthcare workers by ensuring that vaccination training continues. To date, the province has:

  • 6348 registered vaccinators on health platform; and
  • 4245 trained vaccinators to date.

Winde added: “I want to sincerely thank the many healthcare workers who have seen us through the third and previous waves.

“You have consistently been a beacon of hope for all of us throughout the pandemic.”

-Cape Argus

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