Statement by Premier Winde at his weekly digicon

“Western Cape Department of Health data confirms vaccines significantly reduce COVID-19 hospital admissions and deaths”

The Western Cape Department of Health has undertaken an analysis of COVID-19 infections, admissions and deaths amongst residents over 60 years old to determine the real-time effectiveness of the vaccine programme in the Western Cape. The results are clear as day: the vaccine is saving lives!

In this analysis conducted between 14 -20 August 2021, at our peak of COVID-19 infections in the third wave, the following was noted:

  • There were 2455 COVID-19 cases, of which only 8% of infections occurred among those who were fully vaccinated;
  • Of the 729 COVID-19 admissions to hospitals, only 4% of admissions occurred among those fully vaccinated; and
  • Of the 292 COVID-19 deaths, only 1.7% occurred among those fully vaccinated.

To put it simply, over 98% of the people in the Western Cape who died of COVID-19 during this time were not fully vaccinated.

It is clear that the vaccine is a highly effective way to reduce hospital admissions and save lives. That is why I urge every person to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We need to save our summer, and our economy, and we can only do this if we all fully vaccinate and if we save lives. 

“We have exited the peak and are on track to exit the third wave too”

We have exited the peak of the third wave, and all indicators show us that we are coming off the third wave and that we are on track to exit it too.

According to the South African COVID-19 Modelling Consortium, there is a 20% probability that the third wave will end by 18 September 2021. We continue to monitor this.

We will know that we have exited the third wave once case numbers are at 15% of the peak of the current wave, or approximately 530 cases diagnosed a day. We are continuing to monitor these indicators closely.

It is on this basis that I have called for the National State of Disaster to be lifted. Not only is our healthcare system stable and coping, but we are also well equipped to handle subsequent waves. Going forward, we should be taking a differentiated approach to ensure that we get the balance right in saving both lives and livelihoods.

Insofar as our provincial healthcare platform is concerned:

  • The Reproduction or “R” number is now below 1 which confirms that we are no longer at the peak of the third wave.
  • We are predicting far fewer cases for the next week. Case numbers continue to move on a downward trend. We are currently seeing an average of 1505 new diagnoses each day, down 3543 at its highest point on 17 August 2021.
  • The proportion of positive COVID-19 tests is 21% which has decreased from 42% at its highest point on 26 July 2021.
  • Hospital admissions have decreased from 362 new admissions at their highest point on 1 August to 215 new admissions daily.
  • Average deaths stand at 65 deaths compared to 122 deaths at their highest point on 30 July 2021. Excess deaths for the Province continue on a downward trend.

“The Western Cape’s bed usage rate is stable and decreasing” 

We are seeing that the pressure on our healthcare platform is decreasing. There are currently 2819 COVID-19 patients in our public and private hospitals, compared to 3608 at its highest point on 6 August 2021.

Throughout the pandemic and during each wave, we have tailored our response in line with clearly identified trigger points to ensure that our health care system can cope with the demand.

We have ensured that there is sufficient bed capacity in our hospitals to meet the demand, and we continue to do so. 

We are continuing to closely monitor the usage of beds across our province through the Bed Bureau Management System.

Insofar as our acute service platform is concerned:

  • Currently, there are 2819 COVID-19 patients in our acute hospitals (1568 in public hospitals and 1251 in private hospitals). This excludes persons under investigation and cases in a specialised hospital setting.
  • The Metro hospitals have an average bed occupancy rate of 92%; George drainage area hospitals at 64%; Paarl drainage area hospitals at 78% and Worcester drainage area hospitals at 71%. The critical care bed occupancy rate for the province is 91%.
  • COVID-19 and persons under investigation cases currently make up 22% of all available acute general hospital capacity in both Metro and Rural Regional Hospital drainage areas.
  • COVID-19 inter-mediate care: the Brackengate Hospital of Hope currently has 192 patients or 57.14% of its bed usage rate, Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope has 97 clients or 62.9% of its bed usage rate and Sonstraal currently has 51 clients or 85% of its bed usage rate. We have not needed to use our additional bed capacity at Freesia and Ward 99.
  • The Metro mass fatality centre has the capacity for 240 bodies, it currently has 18 decedents admitted. The overall capacity has been successfully managed across the province and the TMFC will close on 30 September, as we have not been required to use the full capacity.

Let’s play our part in reducing the pressure on our healthcare platform by getting vaccinated and staying safe.

“Western Cape’s objective is to fully vaccinate 70% of 50+ by December”

The Western Cape remains committed to reopening the economy and getting the balance right between saving lives and livelihoods, which is why we have set vaccination targets ahead of the summer season.

By December 2021, we aim to:

  • Fully vaccinate 70% of those who are 50 years and older. This means that we will need to administer 709 489 vaccines to persons 50+ by December; and
  • Administer at least one dose of the vaccine to 70% of those who are between 18-49 years old. This means that we will need to administer 1 668 273 vaccines to persons 18-49 years by December.

We appeal to those who have not yet been vaccinated to take up their opportunity to gain protection.

To date, we have administered at least one dose to 33.3% of the total population of those 18 years and older, this includes:

  • 832 446 vaccines to persons 60+. Of which 65.9% have received at least one vaccine. 
  • 501 010 vaccines to persons between 50 -59 years. Of which 49.9% have received at least one vaccine. 
  • 597 427 vaccines to persons between 35-49 years. Of which, 35.1% have received at least one vaccine
  • 307 064 vaccines to persons 18-49 years. Of which, 15.3% have received at least one dose vaccine.

We have scaled up our vaccination capacity to administer vaccines over the past 14 weeks and have the capacity to vaccinate over 50 000 people a day.

We also have sufficient supply to do so. By 6 September 2021, the public sector had received 2 437 240 vaccine doses, which includes 2 112 510 Pfizer doses and 324 730 J&J doses.

“Please make use of your vaccine opportunity”

I encourage those of you who have not yet gotten vaccinated to take up your vaccine opportunity as soon as possible, and I commend those communities that are leading the charge in terms of uptake.

We continue to see the highest uptake in the Overberg among those in the 60+ age group with approximately 98.4% who have registered to date. We also see high numbers of registrations in the Metro Western sub-district where 80.3% of those 60+ have registered.

We are also encouraged by the increase in registrations within the:

  • Central Karoo: registrations of those 60 years and older currently stands at 48.9%; 
  • Mitchells Plain: 43.4% of those 60 years and older have registered; and
  • Khayelitsha: 47.6% of those 60 years and older have registered.

These figures have improved drastically, but there is still a long way to go. That is why we are applying lessons learnt and pursuing localized strategies in each area to drive up vaccinations.

It is also important that we improve access and counter misinformation by sharing reliable information with the public. This is a core pillar of our plan to reach our targets by December.

“Let’s continue to stay safe so that we save lives and jobs”

I encourage residents to continue being vigilant and practice the lifesaving behaviours that we have learnt to stop the spread.

We are not yet out of the woods and we must play our part to break the chain of transmission and contain infections over the coming weeks.

Please:

  • Wear your mask properly, covering your nose and mouth.
  • Wash and sanitise your hands regularly.
  • Avoid crowded places, confined spaces and close contact.
  • Keep your gatherings short, small and outdoors – with lots of ventilation.
  • Get vaccinated when it is your turn.
  • Stay home if you feel sick. If you have any difficulty breathing, seek urgent medical treatment.
  • Continue to protect your family bubble.