Frontline healthcare workers at the Stellenbosch Hospital doing their rounds in one of the Covid-19 wards. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Frontline healthcare workers at the Stellenbosch Hospital doing their rounds in one of the Covid-19 wards. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Trauma cases over the weekend will stretch Cape healthcare capacity to the limit

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jul 30, 2021

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Cape Town - The provincial Department of Health has warned that this weekend could have a devastating impact on an already threatened health system, because the month-end and the lifting of the ban on alcohol sales could result in a spike in trauma cases.

Health Department head Dr Keith Cloete said health services and capacity were under threat, with more than 80% of high-care and high-flow nasal oxygen Covid-19 beds occupied and a 200% increase in pre-Covid-19 hospital oxygen use in the public sector.

Dr Cloete joined Premier Alan Winde, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo and Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation chief operating officer and Professor of Medicine Linda-Gail Bekker for the weekly digicon on developments around the Covid-19 pandemic yesterday.

“If anybody is injured this weekend because of trauma, there is no capacity to manage anybody with a serious injury this coming weekend in the critical-care capacity, because it has all been taken up by Covid-19,” said Dr Cloete.

Currently, there were 3 433 Covid-19 patients in acute hospitals, with 1 805 in public hospitals and 1 638 in private hospitals.

The province is seeing an average of 2 439 new Covid-19 cases, 307 hospital admissions because of the virus and 90 Covid-19-related deaths a day.

Dr Cloete said Covid-19 cases continue to increase, and “we have not fully come out from a peak of infections”.

There were currently 36 835 active cases. “We are likely to peak within the next seven to 10 days,” said Dr Cloete.

Winde said he has spoken to Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz regarding law enforcement across the province to ensure those who were not compliant with Covid-19 health and safety measures “are dealt with”.

Fritz said: “It’s the end of the month and the outright ban on the purchase and transport of alcohol has been eased. I want to appeal to citizens: please consume alcohol responsibly. Please observe and comply with the provisions pertaining to alcohol in the Disaster Management Act.

“We have seen a spike in cases and we cannot afford our hospital beds to be occupied by patients presenting in trauma units with alcohol-related injuries.”

Mbombo said the department has been working on a vaccine equity plan to ensure that no one was left behind.

Bekker said little information around the dominant Delta variant was known. However, two vaccines, Pfizer and Oxford-Astrazeneca, have shown efficacy against the variant.

Two doses of Pfizer provided 87.9% efficacy and two doses of Oxford-Astrazeneca provided 59.8% efficacy.

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