Our behaviour plays a role in another wave, said Premier Alan Winde
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CAPE TOWN - The Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, together with the Western Cape Department of Health, has said, they have learnt to curb another Covid-19 wave to secure a sufficient supply of oxygen and ensure the well-being of their staff, to create a healthy workforce while vaccinations and public behaviour was key.
This week, the country was placed on alert Level 1 and the third wave came to an end.
Weekend Argus spoke to Premier Winde and the Health Department in their response to the third wave and what had been learnt to prevent further triage and mayhem.
They said the figures indicated that the third wave was a thing of the past after infections were 15 % of the peak or 530 cases a day with 25 deaths per day.
Winde said: “According to the technical definition, leaving the third wave requires that new infections are 15% of the peak, or 530 cases a day on average.
“Our current daily infections are lower than this and now stands at 350 a day. In the Metro, overall, there is a 47% week-on-week decrease in cases in the Metro.
“All sub districts continue to see substantial decreases in case numbers. In rural communities, there is a similar decrease in case numbers.
“Across the province, the proportion of positive Covid-19 tests has also decreased to 9.2%.
“Admissions and deaths continue to decline, with an average of 80 new admissions and around 25 deaths each day.”
Winde said, in attacking a fourth wave, they had to ensure oxygen. Staff was a priority to secure a good working system. “In responding to the third wave, we have adapted our response following lessons learnt from the second wave. We looked after the wellbeing of our staff through initiating grieving and healing sessions to ensure we have a healthy workforce, ensured we have sufficient oxygen by putting in place measures to ensure additional oxygen is brought into the province, activated additional intermediate care bed capacity, and re purposing them afterwards again.”
Winde said the province “invested in our human resource capacity” by maintaining contracted staff during the second wave to continue during the third wave.
He added the vaccine also played an important role in curbing the devastation of another wave.
Winde warned that the general behaviour of the public added to the strain and spread of the virus. “Residents in the Western Cape are urged to play their part and continue practising the lifesaving behaviours that we have learnt throughout the pandemic to break the chain of the transmission and prevent outbreaks.
“This includes washing and sanitizing your hands regularly, wearing your mask correctly and maintaining a safe social distance.
“I also encourage you to make use of your vaccine opportunity. Vaccines are safe and extremely effective in preventing illness, hospitalisation and death.
“‘Throughout the pandemic, the Western Cape Government has tailored its response to the third wave in line with clearly identified trigger points to ensure that we protect our healthcare system so that we can respond.
“We are also continuing to closely monitor the usage of beds across our province, through a centrally coordinated and professional operation, known as the Bed Bureau Management System.”
He said many people admitted to hospital, especially over the age of 60, were not fully vaccinated.
“An analysis undertaken by the Provincial Department of Health demonstrates the undeniable benefits of getting vaccinated, and as soon as possible. During the week of 14 – 20 August, when the Western Cape was in its peak of the third wave, 96% of those over 60 years who were hospitalized were not fully vaccinated and 98.3% of those who died were not fully vaccinated.”
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) held its 5th annual Research Week, this week, which focused on the institution’s contribution to fighting and understanding the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Dr Tasmin Suliman, a post-doctoral research fellow in the Faculty of Natural Sciences at UWC, who managed to “inoculate cell cultures with samples from the COVID-19 patients to grow the virus in a laboratory”, discussed the techniques to conduct research on the SARS-CoV2 virus in her presentation, said Anel Lewis, Co-ordinator, Media Institutional Advancement, UWC.
“According to Dr Suliman, some of the benefits of the virus culture technique include generating material for research, understanding how the virus works and mutates, and vaccine development,” said Lewis.
Professor Bernard Bladergroen, head of the energy storage and fluid treatment centre, deputy director of the South African Institute for Advanced Materials Chemistry Innovation Centre (SAIAMC) and professor in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, discussed the design and production of ventilators and face masks.
“They found that while “K95 masks are designed to keep particles out and seal better, they are less comfortable, while surgical masks are not designed to form a perfect seal.
“The fogging of glasses is proof that the majority of exhaled air bypasses the filter,” said Bladergroen.
The faculty also designed and manufactured their own personal shield and masks to prevent or lower transmission of the virus.