The first Covid-19 wards at Lentegeur Hospital in Mitchells Plain on the Cape Flats have been opened and an facility manager appointed to operate 200 beds as a field hospital.
The Western Cape Government says 64 patients are currently admitted to the facility. The wards were upgraded for Covid-19 care for the second wave, with additional beds and infrastructure.
The provincial government says it will be known at the Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope.
The 200 beds – in four wards – are equipped with oxygen access and high flow facilities. Beds in the wards will be opened in periods over the next few days.
Meanwhile, Western Cape health officials say the province is starting to show signs that it has entered the peak of the second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Head of the Provincial Health Department, Dr Keith Cloete, says hospitalisation and mortality data, however, continue to show an increase, with early signs of flattening.
Speaking during an online media briefing, Dr Cloete says it is now crucial to maintain a strong focus on behavioural changes to ensure containment.
“We have entered the peak of the second wave with early signs of stabilisation. So it’s really just stabilisation, it’s not that we have gone through the peak. There are local teams on high alert, especially to deal with the vulnerable. Our biggest concern is still the non-adherence to protective behaviours. Therefore, the new regulations through targeted law enforcement still need to be adhered to.”
Oxygen usage at alarming levels
Dr Cloete says oxygen usage in the treatment of COVID-19 has reached alarming levels with the public sector currently using 70% of the total capacity, with the remaining 30% being used between the private sector and military hospitals.
“We’ve been using an average of 12 tonnes per day for the last year. In July, we peaked at 27 tonnes a day for the public sector. We currently in excess of 48 tonnes a day, just for the public sector. So you can imagine the stretch and we are going into unchartered territory for oxygen use in this province not seen before.”
The use of oxygen in the treatment of COVID-19 in the Western Cape has reached the unchartered territory. It’s now above the maximum capacity of the Afrox Western Cape Plant.
The peak of the second wave is expected in the province this week with rising active cases in all districts except for the Garden Route.
The province says more than 25 healthcare workers have also died since the first of November with more than 90 admitted in the last two weeks.
Over a thousand healthcare workers are currently infected across 95 institutions.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has thanked frontline workers in the province for working tirelessly throughout the festive season to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Winde says healthcare workers and law enforcement officials have played an integral role in managing the pandemic.
“Right now, every single person knows someone who has lost a loved one, knows someone who is positive, knows someone who has spent time in our health facilities on oxygen, being given that critical care that they need so it is really close to home. So thank you so much to every one of those frontline workers who worked hard across the province this festive season.”
The Western Cape currently has around 41 000 active COVID-19 cases. Around 221 000 positive cases have been recorded in the province thus far. Around 174 000 recoveries have been recorded while more than a million tests have been conducted.
While there has been a significant reduction in trauma cases over the past week, COVID hospitalisations are on the rise. The Worcester drainage area currently under more pressure at 102% capacity.
The province says logistics around vaccine supply and distribution are part of its strategy.