Update on the Western Cape’s healthcare platform and vaccine programme
“Despite our imminent exit from the fourth wave, the President still does not have a clear roadmap to end the national State of Disaster.”
Yesterday, while attending the launch of Africa’s Access to Advanced Healthcare (AAAH) Coalition, a journalist queried the President on when he intended for the National State of Disaster to come to an end.
In responding, the President singled me out as driving the issue, yet failed to clearly outline a roadmap going forward – noting only that this would be considered by the National Coronavirus Command Council. This is despite the fact that our exit from the fourth wave is now imminent.
Since October last year, have called on the National Government to create a clear roadmap, guiding us out of the National State of Disaster so that we can focus on the second pandemic of unemployment.
I am, once again, reiterating my call for the National Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to allow the National State of Disaster’s regulations to expire as we begin to exit the fourth wave.
Existing restrictions on gatherings and events now serve only to undermine our province’s tourism and hospitality sectors – key sectors which are needed to drive job creation following the aftermath of the pandemic.
It’s high time that we do away with these job-killing regulations as we are steadily approaching the exit of the fourth wave in the Western Cape – and the regulations are no longer needed to ensure that our healthcare system can cope. The virus is now reaching an endemic stage.
The Western Cape is coping well, and we are also starting to see a decoupling of cases, deaths and hospitalisations. This means that while cases were higher during the fourth wave – deaths and admissions were significantly lower, showing us that we can safely begin normalizing our response to the virus.
“We are seeing a decline in new COVID-19 cases, admission and test positivity – showing that we are on track to exit the fourth wave.”
We are seeing a decline in new COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and COVID-19 test positivity, showing us that we are on track to exit the fourth wave.
According to the South African COVID-19 Modelling Consortium (SACMC), Gauteng is the first province to have officially exited the fourth wave, but the Western Cape is seeing a decrease in incident cases.
We will have officially exited the fourth wave once we reach 600 daily new cases based on the 7-day moving average. We currently have an average of 1100 cases, nearly half the average number of cases last week which was 2013. The SACMC is predicting far fewer new cases in the coming week.
Insofar as our healthcare capacity in the Western Cape is concerned:
- The reproduction or “R” number remains firmly below 1. This means that we are seeing a decrease in cases and that we are on track to exit the fourth wave.
- Hospital admissions now stand at 174 new admissions daily. This is a decrease from 217 last week.
- The proportion of positive COVID-19 cases has now declined to 28%, down from 40% last week.
- The number of deaths, based on a 7-day moving average, is 31 and is comparably lower than previous waves. Deaths are now plateauing as we begin to exit the fourth wave.
This shows us that we are on track to exit the fourth wave. Please continue to practice the lifesaving behaviours that we have learnt to stop the spread throughout the pandemic so that we can prevent any spikes in infections.
“While our hospitals have coped throughout the pandemic, we are seeing reduced pressure on the healthcare platform.”
While our hospitals have coped throughout the pandemic, we are seeing significantly less pressure on the healthcare platform in the province.
This is largely thanks to the Provincial Department of Health’s approach of titrating their response throughout the fourth wave depending on the number of COVID-19 admissions. This has ensured an agile and responsive approach to the COVID-19 caseload throughout the fourth wave and pandemic.
Insofar as our acute service platform is concerned:
- The total consumption of oxygen in public and private hospitals is 29.89 tonnes a day. We are using far less oxygen compared to previous waves. Oxygen consumption, on average, did not even reach the first trigger of 50% oxygen use compared to the third wave when oxygen use in the public sector alone reached 302%.
- In terms of the bed occupancy rate at our drainage hospitals: Cape Town Metro stands at 90%; George area stands at 70%; Paarl area stands at 70%; Worcester area stands at 67%.
- Across the province: COVID-19 patients constitute 9% of the bed occupancy rate and 34% of the critical care occupancy.
This means that not only is our healthcare system is coping, but that we can safely do away with the National Disaster Act’s regulations, which now serve only to cripple the economy and undermine job creation.
“We are continuing in our efforts to ensure a targeted vaccine rollout, ensuring a gradual increase in vaccine uptake after the festive season”
The Provincial Department of Health is taking a targeted approach to its vaccine rollout, focussing on the community level and areas with low vaccine uptake. The Department is specifically targeting the unvaccinated and those who are now eligible for booster doses and can administer up to 40 000 vaccinations a day.
By 2 January 2022, a total of 24 862 vaccines were administered. This increased to 42 101 by 9 January 2022 and further increased to 67 909 by 16 January 2022. This shows us that we are seeing a gradual increase in uptake following the festive season.
By 19 January 2022, we had vaccinated:
- Of those 60 years and older: 521 809 people or 72.16% of the total population had been vaccinated, of which 67.74% had been fully vaccinated.
- Of those between 50 and 59 years: 433 331 people or 63.34% of the total population had been vaccinated with 59.02% already fully vaccinated.
- Of those between 35 and 49 years: 842 806 people or 55.75% of the total population has been vaccinated, with 50.26% already fully vaccinated.
- Of those between 18 and 34 years: 882 937 people of 42.91% of the total population had been vaccinated with 35.01% already fully vaccinated.
- In addition, 120 839 of those aged between 12 and 17 years have also been vaccinated, with 18 543 children having already had their second Pfizer vaccine.
To date, a total of 4 621 089 vaccines have been administered in the province and a total of 12 077 vaccines were administered in the last 24 hours.
I strongly encourage those of you who have not yet done so to please get vaccinated. We know that vaccines work and have played a significant role in helping to reduce the number of deaths and hospital admissions during the fourth wave – and well help to do so in subsequent waves. Please do not delay.
“Please be safe and get vaccinated as we continue to exit the fourth wave”
As we begin to exit the fourth wave, let’s continue to play our part and stay safe by:
- Getting vaccinated, protecting yourself from severe illness and death in subsequent waves.
- Wearing a mask correctly, covering both your nose and mouth. Ensure that you dispose of or wash your mask after each use.
- Ensuring good ventilation, with lots of fresh air. If you are gathering, do it outside.
- Adhering to the Golden Rules of Good Hygiene, including staying home as soon as you feel sick.
Each of us has a role to play in ensuring that we keep safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please play your part to ensure that we exit the fourth wave as quickly as possible.