“The Western Cape is in the peak of the third wave and so heightened vigilance needed now more than ever”
During my weekly digital press conference today, we confirmed that the Western Cape is in the peak of the third wave and that we must be vigilant now more than ever.
In addition to practising the lifesaving behaviours we have learnt over the last 16 months, such as wearing a mask and avoiding crowds, I also want to encourage those who have not yet been vaccinated and who are eligible to come forward and receive a vaccine as soon as possible.
The vaccine is safe and will help protect you from getting seriously ill from COVID-19, and our very early data is already showing that it is helping reduce the impact of the third wave on those residents over 60 who have had at least one shot of Pfizer.
During the briefing today, I was also able to confirm that our health platform, while under pressure at the peak, is coping with the demands on it. This is due to the advanced planning for the third wave, but also because of the heroic efforts of our frontline workers who are working around the clock to save lives during this time of greater pressure.
We must think of them, and how they have helped us all over the last year and a half, and honour them by staying safe and protecting our healthcare system.
Over the last week, I have conducted site visits to numerous hospitals and engaged with their CEOs and healthcare management. There is one common message that these brave men and women want me to share: please do not let your guard down. Please stay out of hospital by getting vaccinated and by staying safe.
Lastly, during my press conference today, I was also able to announce the very good news that our vaccines supplies, which have been under pressure over the last two weeks, will start to increase significantly from next week. Nearly a quarter of a million vaccines will arrive in the Western Cape tomorrow alone.
“We are beginning to see a flattening of the curve at the third wave peak”
We are beginning to see the flattening of the curve at our peak as new case infections start to plateau again. This happened after an initial plateau two weeks ago, and then a subsequent increase the week thereafter. This is largely explained by a disruption in testing caused by the taxi violence in the Cape Metro during that time.
The status of the third wave is as follows:
- The reproduction or ‘R’ number is currently 1.1 which means that for every 10 cases, an additional 11 people are infected. This means we are not yet declining.
- Case numbers are increasing slightly again now, after an initial plateau. This is largely explained by a delay in testing caused by transport disruptions two weeks ago, which resulted in a spike in new positive tests the week thereafter.
- The proportion of COVID-19 positive tests remains high at an average of 41.5%.
- Admissions to hospitals are at 339 new admissions per day. There is also a slowing down in new admissions.
- Deaths have increased, with around 108 deaths each day. Deaths will be the last of the 3 main indicators to decline, following cases and then hospitalisations.
“We must play our part in reducing pressure on our healthcare system”
While we have revised our healthcare platform’s response to the third wave, our hospitals are currently under pressure. We must all play our part in alleviating pressures on hospitals and their resources at this time.
Insofar as our acute service platform is concerned:
- Currently, there are 3 654 COVID-19 patients in our acute hospitals (2 021 in public hospitals and 1 633 in private hospitals). This excludes persons under investigation and cases in specialised hospital settings.
- The Metro hospitals have an average occupancy rate of 97%; George drainage area hospitals at 70%; Paarl drainage area hospitals at 81% and the Worcester drainage area hospitals at 72%.
- COVID-19 and persons under investigation cases currently make up 31% of all available acute general hospital capacity in both the metro and rural regional hospital drainage areas.
- COVID-19 inter-mediate care: the Brackengate Hospital of Hope currently has 295 patients with a capacity of 336 beds, Freesia and Ward 99 have 0 patients (capacity of 90 beds), Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope has 118 patients (an additional ward had been opened) and Sonstraal currently has 64 patients.
This points to the Western Cape still having capacity in our intermediate and acute care wards. The critical care capacity, however, is stretched significantly at the peak but is still coping.
“We are closely monitoring our bed usage rate to respond to the third wave”
We are continuing to closely monitor the usage of beds across our province, through a centrally coordinated and professional operation, known as the Bed Bureau Management System.
In the Western Cape, the total general bed use rate is at 89%, the total COVID-19 bed use rate is at 75%.
Insofar as our drainage areas are concerned:
- The Metro has 5065 beds, of which the general bed use rate is 97%, the COVID-19 bed use rate is 79%;
- The George drainage area has 918 beds, of which the general bed use rate is 70%, the COVID-19 bed use rate is 68%;
- The Paarl drainage area has 988 beds, of which the general bed use rate is 81%; the COVID-19 bed use rate is 91%; and
- The Worcester drainage area has 769 beds, of which the general bed use rate is 72%, the COVID-19 bed use rate is 46%.
“We are working with Afrox to monitor oxygen use”
The Provincial Department of Health and the Afrox Western Cape Plant is continuing to monitor the use of oxygen in the province over the coming weeks and are doing so through regular oxygen huddles.
Insofar as our oxygen use is concerned:
- The combined public-private use is now 73.65 tons a day or 98.2% of the maximum production capacity at the Afrox Western Cape plant.
- The public sector total average bulk oxygen consumption is 44.6 tons a day for a 7-day period.
We continue to have regular huddles with Afrox and remain confident that we continue to have adequate supplies to manage over the peak.
“We must be responsible over the long weekend on the roads and with our use of alcohol”
We are simultaneously monitoring the number of trauma admissions to our hospitals to ensure that we have enough capacity in our hospitals and that we can proactively identify any risks so that they can be addressed.
South Africa recently shifted back to alert level 3, lifting some restrictions including a later curfew and the weekday offsite sale of alcohol. This resulted in an increase in trauma cases reporting at the hospitals we monitor across the province. While this added significant pressure, the system continues to be able to cope.
As we approach the Women’s Day long weekend, we again urge residents to be responsible. Please do not drink and drive, and do not drink excessively. Please travel safely, and ensure that you do not speed. If you are travelling over a longer distance, make sure you plan your trip, and make lots of stops. Please also remember to avoid crowded places, and to ensure any meeting is short, small and outside with good ventilation.
We have to get this balance right in saving jobs, while still protecting our healthcare system over our peak. Your behaviour remains the best way to do so. So please stay safe, be responsible, and help us save lives and jobs.
“Western Cape is on-track to receive 246 600 doses vaccines tomorrow”
I am pleased to announce we are expected to receive a tranche of 246 600 doses of vaccines tomorrow which will include 117 000 doses of Pfizer and 129 600 doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for delivery to sites the following week.
It is further expected that the vaccine supply will increase from early-mid August 2021.
To date, the public sector has received 988 880 vaccine doses which include 877 230 doses of Pfizer and 111 650 doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
A cumulative total of 1 254 490 vaccines, which includes the Sisonke programme, have been administered to date. Of which, 455 359 people have been fully vaccinated.
Between 2 – 6 August 2021, we have had a cumulative total of 218 public vaccination sites come online which includes 82 sites in the metro and 136 sites in rural communities.
A total of 121 private sector sites have also come online which include 83 sites in the metro and 38 in rural communities. Private vaccination sites are predominantly being established at private hospitals, independent pharmacies and retail pharmacies.
Our vaccine rollout is further being supported by the rollout of workplace sites and by the Department’s roving teams, which visit satellite clinics.
The Western Cape Government remains prepared to scale up our vaccine rollout plan further, subject to vaccine supply.
“We are approaching herd immunity among 60+”
I am pleased to note that we are getting closer to achieving herd immunity among those aged 60 years and older and we look forward to reaching our next milestone of 67% vaccinated in this age group.
Of those in the 60+ age group who have registered to date, 60.1% have at least received a single dose already, and the number of those fully vaccinated is starting to exceed those partially vaccinated.
Our vaccine cascade, which helps us to monitor registrations and vaccinations in the province, shows us that we have registered a total of 1 235 557 people in the province, of which:
- 468 053 in the 60+ age group have registered, and 647 850 vaccines have been administered.
- 301 923 in the 50+ age group have registered, and 257 843 vaccines have been administered. A total of 84.5% of those registered have received at least one dose.
- 465 581 in the 35+ age group have registered, and 232 628 vaccines have been administered. A total of 49% of those registered have received at least one dose.
Let’s play our part in achieving herd immunity and beating COVID-19, by ensuring that we get registered and attend our vaccination appointments.
“Let’s be safe and vigilant over the long weekend”
It is extremely important that every single resident take personal responsibility in protecting themselves and their loved ones during our peak, particularly over the long weekend.
- Wear your mask properly, covering your nose and mouth.
- Wash and sanitise your hands regularly.
- Avoid crowded places, confined spaces and close contact.
- Keep your gatherings short, small and outdoors – with lots of ventilation.
- Drink responsibly and do not drink and drive.
- Get vaccinated when it is your turn.
- Stay home if you feel sick. If you have any difficulty breathing, seek urgent medical treatment.
- Help protect those at highest risk – especially those who are older, and those with comorbidities.
- Continue to protect your family bubble.
Let’s play our part and break the chain of transmission so that we can save lives and livelihoods in the Western Cape and South Africa.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Government.