Media release by Premier Winde at his weekly digital press conference

The Western Cape is now firmly in a third wave with an average of 1969 new cases of COVID-19 a day. 

The reproductive number has been over 1 for the past two months and is currently sitting at approximately 1.2. This means that for every 10 cases, there are an additional 12 infections, and therefore an acceleration in our curve.

Our health platform shows us that in the Western Cape: 

  • The week on week increases in current admissions has been above 20% over a week.  
  • The proportion of positive tests has also increased to an average of 32%.
  • Admissions to hospitals are increasing with an average of 170 new admissions a day.
  • Deaths have also increased now to approximately 35 deaths each day.

I urge heightened vigilance during this time, as the risk of getting infected by COVID-19 is increasing. You must do everything possible to protect yourself and your loved ones, so that we flatten the curve, protect our health system, and save lives. 

“We have brought additional beds online and can scale up further if needed” 

Last week, we brought online additional bed capacity at the Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope, on the grounds of Lentegeur Hospital, and are ready to bring on additional beds. 

This was in addition to the already activated 336-bed Brackengate Hospital of Hope, which was opened towards the end of the first wave. 

The creation of field hospital capacity at existing facilities, such as Lentegeur Hospital, is part of our strategy to ensure that legacy infrastructure could be used in subsequent waves, and into the future. 

We are continuing to closely monitor the usage of beds across our province, through a centrally coordinated and professional operation, known as the Bed Bureau Management System.

In the Western Cape, the total general bed use rate is at 80%, the total COVID-19 bed use rate is at 38%, and the total designated COVID-19 critical care bed use rate is at 84%. 

Insofar as our drainage areas are concerned:

  • The Metro has 4996 beds, of which the general bed use rate is 87%, the COVID-19 bed use rate is 36%; 
  • The George drainage area has 918 beds, of which the general bed use rate is 60%, the COVID-19 bed use rate is 35%;
  • The Paarl drainage area has 987 beds, of which the general bed use rate is 78%; the COVID-19 bed use rate is 67%; and
  • The Worcester drainage area has 769 beds, of which the general bed use rate is 67%, the COVID-19 bed use rate is 28%.

I call on residents to continue playing their part in alleviating the strain on our healthcare system by staying safe. 

“Private & public sector using 67.4% of the maximum oxygen capacity a day”

The combined public and private sectors’ use of oxygen in the Western Cape is now 47.20 tons a day or 67.4% of the maximum production capacity at the Afrox Western Cape plant. 

We will continue to monitor oxygen use over the coming weeks and have received a commitment from Afrox to scale up the provision as required for the third wave. We have also ensured that our facilities are prepared with the necessary oxygen infrastructure since the beginning of the pandemic. 

“We have implemented measures to protect health care workers amid third wave”

The Western Cape Government has implemented numerous measures to protect our healthcare workers amid the third wave. We have done so by considering workforce planning, vaccination training, wellbeing and safety, and building resilience and hope. 

In terms of workforce planning, we have:

  • Appointed 833 staff additional for our COVID-19 response.
  • Appointed 775 healthcare workers and support staff, and 359 interns for the vaccination drive.
  • Extended contracts and re-allocations of staff in response to the third wave.
  • 753 applicants can still be appointed if needed.

In terms of vaccination training, we have:

  • 5923 registered vaccinators on the health platform.
  • 3954 trained vaccinators to date.

In terms of wellbeing and safety, we have: 

  • Vaccinated 23 235 or 67.46% of staff within the Provincial Department of Health.
  • Provided onsite counselling clinics through the employee wellbeing programme.
  • PPE provision and are improving our occupational health and safety practices. 
  • Communicated practical ways for our staff to be safe at work.

In terms of resilience and hope, we have:

  • Shared stories of hope to encourage vaccine uptake among healthcare workers.
  • An internal health communications series to motivate staff and prevent anxiety.
  • Fostered a culture of healing and collaborative learning.

I want to sincerely thank all healthcare workers and frontline staff who are playing their part to protect us amid the third wave. You are our heroes.

“Western Cape prepared to scale up further with 206 public vaccine sites online this week”

Yesterday, the Western Cape administered over 29 000 vaccinations, which was the highest daily number since the programme started. 

When combining the vaccinations from the Sisonke Programme with those from Phase 1b and 2, the Western Cape has, as of yesterday, administered 540 713 vaccinations. 

We have also prepared a significant capacity to administer vaccines across the province and can increase daily vaccinations further, as supply and demand increase. 

This week, we aimed to bring 206 public vaccination sites online, which includes:

  • 73 vaccination sites in the metro; and
  • 133 vaccination sites in the rural areas (outside of Metro).

We also have a total of 63 private sites currently online including 46 in the metro and 17 in rural communities.

In addition, there are three mass vaccine sites of which two are already operational. These include:

  • The Metropolitan Health/Momentum mass site at the Parc Du Cap premises in Bellville which opened on 4 June 2021.
  • The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) Vaccination Centre of Hope which opened yesterday on 7 July and will be operational until December 2021. It is expected to administer over 750 000 vaccinations.
  • A mass vaccination site in the Cape Flats will be brought online in the beginning of August. Assessments have been carried out and this site will be able to accommodate a mix of fixed vaccination stations and drive-through stations. 

I want to thank the Department of Health and the private sector for their extensive efforts to ensure that residents can receive a vaccine at a conveniently located vaccination site. 

“Western Cape Government aims to administer 100 000 vaccines this week”

This week, we are on track to administer 100 000 vaccines. We will have the capacity to reach a minimum of 120 000 per week by the second week in July.

To date, we have received a total of 626 820 vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccines for educators, of which we have already administered 448 981 or 72% of vaccines received.

We continue to carefully and responsibly manage our supplies so that we always have the stock available to administer second doses. 

I urge every resident who has received their first dose to go for their second jab when they are invited for their appointment (approximately 42 days after the first shot). One dose alone does not provide you with the protection you need, and the second dose is essential to keep you out of hospital. 

“We still have many residents over 60 who have not received a first jab. Please walk in to your closest site and get vaccinated. You don’t need to register beforehand.”

Currently, nearly 50% of all residents over 60 (including those who have not registered) have been vaccinated. This means that many people over 60 still need their life-saving vaccine.

One of the reasons for this gap is a lack of access to the technology to register for vaccinations.

It is for this reason that we have decided to prioritise over 60s by allowing all to register and get vaccinated at the same time, at any of our facilities. 

Please take advantage of this opportunity by going to your closest vaccine site. You will be prioritised. 

“Let’s be safe and protect our bubbles”

We are now in an accelerating third wave which is being driven by the Delta variant and I urge everyone to adhere strictly to the lifesaving behaviours that we have learnt over the past 15 months to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes protecting your family bubble. 

We can do so by: 

  • Avoiding gatherings;
  • Wearing our masks correctly;
  • Washing and sanitising our hands;
  • Ensuring we keep it short, small and outside if we do have to leave home;
  • Keeping the windows open on public transport;
  • Protecting those at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness; and
  • Staying home if sick. Please assume you have the virus if you have any symptoms, and stop contact with everyone around you. If you have any shortness of breath, seek urgent medical care.