Statement by Premier Alan Winde on provincial response to Covid-19 - 30 December

The resurgence of Covid-19 in the province has resulted in higher active case numbers hospitalisations and daily deaths than we experienced at the peak of the first wave.  

We currently have over 3100 people hospitalized in both the private and public sector in the province, 353 of which are in ICU.  

Covid-19 and PUI (people under investigation for the virus) cases currently make up 40% of available acute general hospital capacity in both the metro and rural regions of the province.  

The Western Cape Government, and our healthcare teams have worked hard to put in place a number of measures, including the provision of additional beds and the recruitment of additional staff in order to respond to the need.  

Healthcare workers:  

We are currently in the process of recruiting over 1300 healthcare workers - with 44% of these coming from extensions of existing short-term contracts. The remaining 56% will be recruited and appointed.   

We have received over 500 applications as part of this recruitment drive and a dedicated team have been working throughout this festive period, contacting applicants to determine their availability and channelling information to the appropriate regions and districts for immediate placement.  

We have also secured 103 staff members to staff the additional beds and wards at Lentegeur hospital. Among the 103 are 20 nurses, 35 nursing assistants, 17 enrolled nurses, a physiotherapist, pharmacists and assistants, ward clerks, 13 medical officers, 8 porters and two medical specialists. Many of them have already undergone orientation, and orientation for certain categories of staff will continue throughout this week.  

We have also put in a request to the Military for medical staff to be made available.  

Those wishing to register for the recruitment drive, can find more information here: https://coronavirus.westerncape.gov.za/covid-19-recruitment-drive  

Healthcare services:  

The province will soon have added 744 beds into the system in order to manage Covid-19, with the ability to add an additional 136 beds should they be required, and the requisite healthcare workers be available.  

This means we are scaling up to a capacity of 880 beds – more than the CTICC field hospital capacity  in the first wave.  

The breakdown is as follows: 

  • 336 beds at the Hospital of Hope (Brackengate)   
  • 60 beds at the Freesia Ward in Mitchell’s Plan  
  • 30 beds at Ward 99 in Mitchell’s Plain   
  • 187 beds at the Aquarius Ward in Mitchell’s Plain   
  • 59 beds at the Sonstraal Hospital in Drakenstein   
  • 72 beds in Vredendal, Hermanus and George  

We have also seen an increased need for psychiatric care and support and in response, will bring 100 more beds online in our psychiatric facilities for this purpose which will further assist in decongesting our acute hospital platform. 60 of these are already open, with the remaining 40 to open in January.  

We have also put in place measures which will increase efficiency and ensure the quick turn-around of available beds. These include:  

  • Tents have been erected at Khayelitsha and Wesfleur where admissions and discharges will be managed. Similar tents will be erected at the Hospital of Hope at Brackengate, Mitchell’s Plain, Helderberg, Eerste River and Karl Bremmer.  
  • EMS and the Department of Transport and Public Works taxi service have implemented a streamlined transport system to assist with inter-facility transfers and rapid discharges in order to optimize capacity.  
  • Our data team has developed a dashboard where we can track available hospital bed capacity daily, which will be linked to available staffing and oxygen capacity in order to give us a full and detailed picture of our response.  

How you can assist:  

We are experiencing significant pressure in our healthcare system and our healthcare workers are overwhelmed and tired. You can assist by:  

  • Only visiting an emergency centre for emergencies and life-threatening conditions. If you need non-urgent medical treatment, please visit your local clinic.  
  • Trauma cases escalate at this time of year and New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest nights of the year in our emergency centres. Level 3 restrictions are in place which ban alcohol, events and gatherings, and there is a curfew in place which are aimed at reducing the pressure on our hospitals. I urge residents to abide by these restrictions and to be safe.   
  • Reduce your risk of contracting Covid-19 by wearing your mask, washing your hands, practicing social distancing, avoiding crowds, confined spaces and close contact. Remember that good ventilation and outdoor spaces are safer.