I am encouraged that to date, 2085 of our senior citizens have recovered from Covid-19 at old age homes in the Western Cape. However, I am deeply concerned that as of 15 January 2021, there were 156 active cases, up from the 78 cases- last reported on 23 December 2020. The Department continues to monitor these numbers on a weekly basis.
It is of great concern that the number of active cases across private homes (104) is double the number of active cases across DSD funded homes (52).
The Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez added, “We have sent out an urgent notice to all old age homes to inform them about our concerns, and have asked that they heed to the protocols developed by the provincial DSD and Department of Health, which guide the management and referrals of Covid-19 outbreaks at homes.”
Whilst the current National regulations allow for visits to old-age-homes, various Boards of Directors have determined that visitations will be suspended or limited. This decision has been in the interest of protecting the residents, who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 due to existing underlying illnesses and comorbidities.
In the Western Cape, there are 300 old age homes of which, 117 is funded by the Department of Social Development. At present, the Department continues to monitor health and safety protocols at these facilities.
In light of old-age-homes being micro-communities, both seniors and their families need to consider how their behaviours and actions can affect other people living in that environment—the residents and the care staff. This can be very challenging because it is not just about what one individual and their family want—they have to consider the larger community where others live to and abide by those policies.
“To those family members who want to visit their loved ones in old-age -homes, I urge to you to postpone the visit if you show any symptoms or have come into contact with anyone who has displayed symptoms or tested positive for Covid-19.
It is encouraging that the Western Cape is exiting its peak, and many indicators in the province point to a decline as announced by Premier Winde yesterday. It is important though that we continue to stay safe, and keep our loved ones safe, as there is still a high risk of getting infected with Covid-19
Let us all work together to protect our senior citizens residing in old-age -homes, our own homes, and also our communities. Always wear a mask properly in public, sanitise regularly, avoid crowded places, keep your gatherings small and preferably outdoors,” concluded Minister Fernandez.
The protocols developed by the provincial DSD and Department of Health, which guide the management and referrals of Covid-19 outbreaks at homes, are still in place. (see link for more information Guidelines for Long Term Care Facilities and COVID-19 below)
We urge the public to access credible information on https://www.westerncape.gov.za/department-of-health/coronavirus.