Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has called on citizens to adhere to Covid-19 regulations amid the second wave that has seen the country battling a new strain of Covid-19.
During his briefing on the province’s coronavirus containment strategy on Tuesday, Winde said the new variant contained several mutations, which was unusual, and has been reported in other countries such as the UK.
“There is also indication that the new variant is spreading faster than the first wave viruses in some cases. Though it was spreading faster, it was still too early to tell if it was more severe. Re-infection chances and whether the current vaccines would work against the new variant are still being investigated,” he said.
As of 21 December, the Western Cape had 34,694 active cases, with a total of 174,813 confirmed cases and 134,567 recoveries.
Winde said the province had seen an increase in hospitalisations due to the second wave, calling on hospitals to change how they provided services.
As it stands, visitation is restricted, with non-urgent outpatient appointments postponed, and patients given alternative dates.
Non-urgent elective surgeries are also being postponed, while patients who are in hospital but are stable are being discharged for further management at home or at a step-down facility, said Winde.
The premier presented a five-point strategy that the province has adopted to curb the spread of Covid-19:
In the Garden Route, active cases were now stabilising at 1500 every day.
“There are positive signs in the Garden Route, but this trend may be reversed by super-spreader events,” he said.
“The Garden Route is currently showing an increase in incidence of cases in Hessequa, Kannaland, Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn, but these are smaller sub-districts within the district. Data show that both hospitalisations and deaths in the Garden Route are decreasing.”
The province’s biggest challenge is the increasing Covid-19 infection rate among healthcare workers and the impact on staff member isolation and quarantine.
The availability of additional staff members for contract work is also a challenge. The province is looking to hire more nurses, said Winde. The number of people willing to volunteer has also decreased.
The impact of alcohol-related trauma, especially in the emergency centres and in critical care, is another challenge being faced in the province, added Winde.
“The impact of the new alcohol restrictions and the targeted law-enforcement efforts will be monitored over the coming weeks.”
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde