There are currently 761 healthcare workers actively infected with Covid-19, and in the past two weeks alone five healthcare workers have died. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
There are currently 761 healthcare workers actively infected with Covid-19, and in the past two weeks alone five healthcare workers have died. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Western Cape calls on unemployed nurses to assist amid Covid-19 second wave

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published Dec 23, 2020

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Cape Town – The Western Cape Department of Health is calling on the assistance of unemployed nurses as the province experiences an increase in the number of healthcare workers being affected by Covid-19.

The provincial health department on Wednesday put out an urgent call for unemployed nurses to assist by applying for short-term contract appointments to assist.

Interested nurses are encouraged to apply on the coronavirus website: coronavirus.westerncape.gov.za.

As of 1pm on 23 December, the Western Cape has 35 450 active Covid-19 infections.

Premier Alan Winde on Tuesday said that over the next few weeks they expected to see the healthcare system placed under enormous strain at a time when more beds would be needed than ever before, “as the second wave of the virus will be significantly larger than the first”.

Provincial head of Health Dr Keith Cloete also revealed that one of their biggest challenges is the increasing Covid-19 infection rate among healthcare workers, and the impact this has on staff member isolation and quarantine.

He said that there were currently 761 healthcare workers actively infected with Covid-19, and that in the past two weeks alone five healthcare workers have died as a result of the virus.

The province is also battling against:

  • The availability of additional staff members for contract work and via agencies is also a significant challenge.
  • The number of people willing to volunteer their services has also decreased significantly.

Cloete said the province does have sufficient PPEs across all the health facilities, and in central storage, with additional orders being placed in recent weeks. He also added that the system to support front line staff in terms of mental well-being was being scaled up.

Winde said that the province was working hard to capacitate the healthcare system to see it through the second peak.

“In the Western Cape, work is ongoing to ramp up both our bed capacity and the number of healthcare workers operating in our hospitals, to protect the system and our staff from severe strain.

“Our nurses, our doctors, and our clinicians have already been working flat out, under very stressful circumstances, since March.

“The fact that our second wave is taking place over the festive season – normally the most social time of year – is further cause for deep concern,” Winde said.

"It is now more important than ever that residents of the Western Cape step up to the plate to help us contain the spread of the virus. We need to do this to protect our hospital capacity because if we continue as is, there is no guarantee of a hospital bed in either the public or private sector, for you or a loved one, if you require it.

“And we need to do it for our healthcare workers, because they are extremely tired, extremely strained, and need our help to get through the next few weeks.“

Winde urged everyone to play their part if we are to get through the peak of the second wave.

“To show your respect for our healthcare workers, and to ensure our hospitals are not overwhelmed, please stick to this simple advice: keep it small and keep it outdoors,” he implored.

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