“The best way to honour those we have lost is to keep on staying safe and saving lives”
Exactly a year ago today I gathered with Premier Alan Winde at Tygerberg Hospital, not far from this venue, to announce that the Western Cape had recorded its first confirmed case of Covid-19.
Since then we have faced one of the most challenging years in our country’s history.
It has been a period of great loss and heartbreak for many people across our province, as 11 319 people have lost their lives to Covid-19. 122 of those who died were healthcare workers, who went bravely to the frontline to help save the lives of others.
We remember each of these people today and commit to doing everything we can to continue saving lives in the year ahead.
While this past year has brought about great pain and loss, it has also shown us what is possible when we work together, with courage and determination.
Over the last year, the Western Cape has:
- Opened world-class field hospitals in record time, including the Hospitals of Hope at the CTICC, Brackengate and Mitchells Plain
- Delivered millions of medicine parcels directly to patients, through partnering with Uber
- Pioneered the use of high flow nasal oxygen as a life-saving alternative to ventilation
- Rolled out Dexamethasone across our hospitals to save the lives of those who were critically ill
- Secured additional oxygen supplies for the Western Cape to manage increased demand during the Second Wave
- Launched the Red Dot Transport services, that transported healthcare workers to work and patients to Q&I facilities
- Reduced morbidity in people with Diabetes, through our award-winning VECTOR programme that monitored Covid-19 infection in this group
- Provided full and accurate statistics daily, through an online interactive dashboard, which has also won awards
- Committed to clean governance, by releasing a Covid-19 Procurement Disclosure Report every month
- Employed more healthcare workers to ensure we had adequate capacity to respond to increased pressure
- Added infrastructure at existing facilities that will create a legacy into the future
- Worked with Faith-Based Organisations to create awareness on safety behaviour, through a dedicated Faith-Based Organization Network
- Assisted businesses across the province to become Covid-19 compliant, to ensure safer workspaces
- Launched major communication campaigns to create awareness amongst members of the public, including street pole posters, radio ads, text messages and social media adverts
- Trained hundreds of healthcare workers to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations in the Western Cape
- Undertaken comprehensive planning for vaccine rollout in subsequent phases
- Provided pshyco-social support to healthcare workers who have dealt with great trauma during the last year
All other Western Cape Government departments have also played an important role, as part of our “All-of-Government” “All-of-Society” approach, from supporting small businesses to providing PPE for learners at schools. We also responded to the humanitarian crisis that the Hard Lockdown caused, through several initiatives including supporting thousands of food gardens across the Western Cape.
I want to use this opportunity to thank officials of the Western Cape Government, NGOs, frontline workers, teachers, police officers and other essential workers for all you have done during the past year. You have done this all in the face of great anxiety and personal loss, and we honour you for what you have done.
I also want to thank each and every person who lives in the Western Cape for showing such courage over the last year. Millions of people in our province have worked hard to keep themselves and their loved ones safe this past year, and we thank you.
Looking forward, the best way we can honour those who we have lost since 11 March 2020 is to keep on saving lives in the year ahead. Vaccines are bringing real hope, but we need to continue ensuring we keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from Covid-19 until this pandemic ends.
To do this, we must carry on wearing our masks, avoiding the 3Cs of crowds, confined spaces and close contact, and by always practising good hygiene by washing or sanitising our hands often.