Western Cape Health COVID-19 platform status update – 8 October 2020
New COVID-19 infections, deaths and hospitalisations continue to decline in the Western Cape. While this is good news, we must remain vigilant and continue to do everything possible to prevent a rise in Covid-19 infections in the future – as is being witnessed in other places in the world today.
Our best defence is to adapt to the new normal by always wearing our masks when in public, keeping at least a 1.5 metre distance from other people, and continuing to wash and sanitise our hands.
The Western Cape, through its available bed and systems capacity, as well as its surveillance system, remains in a position to manage any flare up of cases and we will continue to closely monitor the situation and respond through our comprehensive hotspot strategy.
1. Current situation
There are currently 524 patients admitted in both the public and private sector facilities of which 106 patients in ICU or High Care. To date, we have had 110 092 confirmed cases of which 95% (104 690) have recovered but also had 4 229 deaths.
As part of its surveillance strategy, the Department has recently expanded the testing criteria in the Metro to ensure ongoing monitoring of the virus. The revised testing criteria will be announced by the Premier later today.
Awareness drive campaign
The Department realises the need to continue with normal activities such as going back to work and using public transport. We also need to make sure that we are looking after our health.
In order to ensure that this happens, the Department is currently embarking on an awareness drive at places of gathering and within communities to get residents to take up basic health services again, with a focus on general health, wellbeing, and ongoing care for vulnerable groups. Be on the lookout for this campaign within malls, taxis, while waiting at the bus shelter and when washing your hands in washrooms at malls.
This awareness drive also includes reminding residents that the best way to keep us moving forward is to wear a mask, keep our hands clean and keep at least a 1.5 metre distance from other people.
Visitations to hospitals
As part of its responsibility in ensuring everyone’s safety, the Department of Health will continue to restrict visitations to its health facilities in line with national safety regulations. Some facilities do make provision for one birthing partner and one parent/guardian for paediatric patients. Facilities can also consider visitation on compassionate grounds i.e. when a patient is at end of life stage. However, anyone going to, or planning to go to a health facility, is encouraged to first phone the facility to enquire about visitations, as this varies daily due to the number of factors at a specific facility.
3. Acute Services
Hospital bed update
Our acute care platform is operating at 74% in the Metro and 63% in the Rural with only 5% of these admissions being actual COVID-19 admissions.
Brackengate Hospital of Hope
The facility currently has 23 patients admitted and has sufficient capacity to admit confirmed cases and persons under investigation for COVID-19. The Hospital will remain open for the near future as part of the Department’s preparedness strategy should a second wave emerge to ensure sufficient capacity continues to remain available.
The Department’s hospital oxygen utilisation is currently running at 38% of our available capacity, which serves as another indication in the decline in demand for oxygen.
Mass Fatality Centre
There are currently 24 decedents admitted to the facility, which continues to have sufficient space.
4. Service strategy to re-introduce comprehensive services
The Department’s risk and impact-based approach is guiding the services to be reintroduced – identifying those services which have low risk yet high impact (such as Diabetes, Hypertension, HIV, TB, Child, and Women’s health (including immunizations)). These services which had reduced significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, will have a significant long-term impact for those clients who had missed immunisations, follow-up appointments and scheduled non-emergency treatment.
While elective surgeries are slowly being re-escalated, life-saving surgeries (such as cancer surgeries and urgent cardiac surgeries) will be prioritised with the more urgent cases being dealt with first. However, emergency surgeries have not stopped and will also continue.
Recent reports indicate Tygerberg Hospital has an estimated backlog of 3 500 surgeries and Groote Schuur Hospital 4 142 surgeries. Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital lost 370 operations caused by the lockdown while New Somerset Hospital’s elective surgeries dropped from 576 cases per month in 2019 to 213 procedures per month during the lockdown period. Hospitals are re-evaluating the cases needed for surgery and have already given patients new dates for their surgery. As part of the expansion of the testing criteria for COVID-19, all patients admitted for surgery will be tested for COVID-19 to ensure their safety and that of the staff.