Premier Alan Winde believes this therapy can be administered in general wards, under the correct supervision, which will minimise the need for critical-care beds. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Premier Alan Winde believes this therapy can be administered in general wards, under the correct supervision, which will minimise the need for critical-care beds. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Use of high-flow oxygen in Western Cape 'game changing Covid-19 alternative to ventilator'

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Jun 4, 2020

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Cape Town - The Western Cape has turned to the use of high-flow oxygen to treat patients in place of ventilators, after teams at Tygerberg Hospital recorded encouraging results, Premier Alan Winde said.

This comes after the daily coronavirus update revealed that the Western Cape has recorded 643 deaths, 11 469 active Covid-19 cases, 26 386 confirmed cases, 14 917 recoveries and there are 973 people in hospital.

The premier announced this on Thursday and explained the provincial government's move.

"Of the six earliest Covid-19 patients placed on ventilators at the hospital, all six did not make it. However, high-flow oxygen was administered to seven more patients and, of these, six were able to recover without the use of a ventilator.

"Since then, 114 patients have presented to Tygerberg for critical care, of which 70% met the criteria for the use of high-flow nasal oxygen. Of these, a further 70% have recovered.

"This therapy will become a critical part of our healthcare response, creating an alternative to care on a ventilator. We also believe that this therapy can be administered in general wards, under the correct supervision, which will minimise the need for critical-care beds," he said.

He explained that the therapy requires specific infrastructure and equipment and orders have been placed to start offering the treatment elsewhere, starting with the Groote Schuur Hospital. 

He added that this could become a "game-changer in how we treat critical patients going forward" and is an important part of the province's preparedness response.

Quarantine and Isolation:

Winde added that while the provincial Department of Health has been preparing its systems, the Department of Public Works and Transport in the Western Cape has been working to increase the number of beds available for quarantine and isolation.

He explained that the province currently has 3 848 beds available in both private- and government-owned facilities, with a further 9 682 ready for activation (8 933 in private sector and 749 in public). An additional 788 beds are available for those who have the capacity to pay for quarantine and isolation facilities.

"We are currently looking at ways to ramp up the available facilities, using both provincially or municipally owned facilities as well as turn-key solutions such as hotels and the hospitality industry," Winde said.

Cape Argus

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