With South Africa breaching one million cumulative COVID-19 positive cases, hospital capacity and front line healthcare staff across the Western Cape are under immense pressure.
In the Western Cape a total number of 196 833 confirmed cases have been reported and 56 COVID-19 related deaths occurred during the past 24 hours, according to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Across South Africa, the number of cases at the weekend climbed to 1 004 413 and 26 735 people have died. It has also emerged that in the Western Cape, one in six of all Covid deaths have been recorded in the last two weeks.
Gugulethu township has registered the highest number of deaths overall at 2 769.
Epidemiologists say COVID-19 infections should peak within two weeks which means all hospitals and health facilities will come under renewed pressure in the new year.
Western Cape Director General of Communications, Mark van der Heever told Health-e News that Intensive Care Units in particular are stretched to capacity.
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“Metro hospitals are running at 105% capacity while rural hospitals are running between 87-93%,” he said.
The number of non-Covid-19 trauma cases have also risen according to van der Heever and 136 additional beds have been allotted to the existing 231, bringing the total to 367 available.
Van Der Heever said the emphasis has been placed on the Cape Town metro area where medical facilities are under severe pressure. Rural hospitals report they are around 90% full and at this stage are not as stretched as the urban and peri-urban areas.
“To date, we have added 613 beds across hospitals in the Western Cape. Our focus has now shifted to the metro, where our healthcare management team is working under very tight deadlines to create an additional 500 beds, including 187 additional at Lentegeur, which we believe are needed to see us through the difficult month ahead,” said van der Heever.
Unions call for more nurses
Unions representing nurses in the Western Cape have called on the Health Department to acquire more staff as they are unable to cope with the daily increase of COVID-19 related cases. Provincial officials are hiring more professionals as quickly as possible to cope.
“We do need every available qualified nurse to assist us, we have therefore advertised contract appointments for qualified nurses who are unemployed. We appeal to those qualified unemployed to apply on our website,” he said.
The staff vacancy list can be found here.
Metrorail shut down
According to a statement issued late on Sunday, Metrorail has suspended all Cape Town operations starting on Sunday 27 December.
That is after it emerged that a number of new infections had occurred in its Regional Train Traffic Control and Management Center which will remain closed for deep cleaning.
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