Cape Town - The Western Cape Government is trying to better prepare itself as it faces the peak of the second wave of Covid-19, with health-care facilities falling under unprecedented strain.
A temporary Covid-19 field hospital, the Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope, in Lentegeur, is now operational, with 64 patients admitted.
The four-ward facility is expected to add 200 beds and will provide intermediate care for Covid-19 patients. The wards, previously the Aquarius wards, are located inside the main hospital, and have been repurposed to facilitate intermediate care for Covid-19 patients.
The first two wards, with 100 beds (91 with normal oxygen access, and nine with high-flow nasal oxygen access) were completed on January 1.
These 100 beds were activated in stages over the last few days with all expected to be activated today (Wed).
The third ward will open next week, adding 50 more beds, and the fourth ward is earmarked for opening the following week.
The facility first admitted patients on New Year's Day, said Department of Health head, Dr Keith Cloete.
The province’s bed capacity stands at 7 537 of total acute operational public sector beds, inclusive of general and critical care public sector beds.
This includes the 626 intermediate care beds (336 at Brackengate, 90 at Lentegeur, and 200 at Mitchells Plain Hospital Covid-19 field hospital). The availability of these beds will depend on staffing and oxygen availability.
There are also 59 intermediate care beds at Sonstraal Hospital, Paarl, and an additional 136 can be added should the need arise, said Cloete.
Cloete added that the province was entering “uncharted territory” in terms of its daily oxygen use across the public, private and military hospitals.
Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths continue to increase with early signs of moving towards a plateau.
Around 3 289 people have been hospitalised with Covid-19, with 345 patients in ICU or high care, as of yesterday (Tues).
Meanwhile, during yesterday’s digital press conference to provide an update on the Covid-19 situation in the province, Premier Alan Winde said: “The good news is that the Garden Route District has passed its peak and is now on a sustained downward trajectory.”
Winde said: “The critical care capacity in the Garden Route district, however, still remains under pressure, and there was a week-on-week increase in deaths in this district.”
Before sharing data on the province, Cloete made a disclaimer: “This data is affected by decreased testing during the public holidays, as well as a change in testing criteria.”
According to the data, Cloete said: “The province has seen a decrease in reported cases. Admissions have also started to stabilise overall. The stabilisation in admissions and the proportion positive is cause for hope, but it is too early to be certain. Data over the next few days will be critical to understanding if we are at the peak of the second wave.
“All sub-districts in the Metro and the Metro as a whole have seen a decrease in reported cases. Of note is the significant decrease in the Western sub-district, which shows a 35% drop in reported cases. The Western area was one of the first to experience the second wave, and this might be an early sign that the area has reached its peak. We will have to watch this over the coming days,” he said.