Third wave headed our way

Covid-19 prevention ahead of the third wave.
Covid-19 prevention ahead of the third wave.

The third wave of Covid-19 infection is looming with the province recording 11 811 deaths as of Monday May 31.

This is 48 more deaths than the previous total of 11 763 on Monday, May 24. On Monday May 31, 3 755 new cases had been reported across South Africa, in the previous 24 hours and there were 462 active Covid-19 cases in the Cape’s southern sub-district area.

False Bay Hospital has just been established as a vaccine site. There are now two vaccine clinics based in the old nursing home, which can vaccinate up to 100 people a day.

Vaccinations started at the hospital on Monday, as the country went into Level-2 lockdown with a curfew from 11pm to 4am, restaurants forced to close at 10pm, indoor and outdoor gatherings limited to 100 and 250 people respectively and funerals limited to 100 people and two hours. Failure to wear a mask in public remains a criminal offence.

False Bay Hospital has dedicated one of its two wards to managing the pandemic since the start of lockdown last year. It has 24 dedicated beds for this purpose.

Provincial Health Department spokeswoman Natalie Watlington said the hospital had vaccinated permanent and agency staff, and staff had received training on the current Covid-19 vaccination.

Premier Alan Winde has urged everyone to keep up with the necessary precautions.

The severity of the third wave would depend on several factors, but the public’s behaviour was key to stopping the spread of the virus, he said.

The province was seeing a resurgence, with an increase in new infections every day, he said.

“While this is not yet a third wave, it is the first sign that we are moving towards one,” he warned.

Provincial government preparations for the next surge were based on a five-point plan: changing community behaviours to prevent infection; surveillance and outbreak response; scaling-up health platform Covid-19 capacity, when needed; maintaining comprehensive services; and protecting the wellbeing of health-care workers.

“We must make sure we have enough beds, staff and oxygen to respond effectively in the month ahead,” Mr Winde said.

The provincial Department of Health would monitor how much oxygen was used over the upcoming weeks, he said. Public and private facilities in the province were using 31.84 tons a day, or 45% of production capacity.

“In total, 70 tons are available a day from the Afrox Western Cape plant, which we believe is sufficient to respond at a third wave peak,” he said.

The provincial government could make more hospital beds available if they were needed to meet the demand during a resurgence, he said.

“Throughout the first and second wave, we ensured that our internal infrastructures could respond accordingly. This strategy of enhancing infrastructure at existing facilities means that the facilities remain on standby, to come online when necessary.“

Bed usage was being monitored across the province, through a centrally co-ordinated operation, known as the Bed Bureau Management System.

In the Western Cape, the total general bed use rate is at 83% and our Covid-19 bed use rate is at 12%.

Meanwhile, health-care workers’ contracts were being extended for the most critical posts.

“We are taking every step to ensure that our health-care system is protected and sufficiently staffed,” Mr Winde said.

“We have also established a recruitment database for additional Covid-19 nurses and medical staff that will allow us to bring additional health-care worker on as needed.”

A major benefit was that a large proportion of health-care workers in the province had already been vaccinated.

“I want to reassure residents that the Western Cape government is taking every measure to prevent the onset of a third wave. But we need your help to ensure that we keep pushing it out and keep it flat.“

He said we had all come so far already and were one step closer to the end of the pandemic. “So, don’t get Covid-19 now, and don’t give it to someone who could potentially end up in hospital or die from the virus. We must not give up now. We must dig deep, stay safe and stay strong in the weeks ahead.“

Ms Watlington said those who had registered for a vaccine would receive an appointment SMS. They should go to the vaccination site on the correct date and 15 minutes before the allotted appointment time.

Those going to False Bay Hospital, should use the lower entrance gate and park in the first parking bays closest to the nursing home. From there, follow the signs to the entrance of the vaccine station waiting area.

Everyone will be screened on arrival, asked to wait, then register that they are present.

After vaccination, you will be asked to wait and be observed by a nurse for 15 minutes before exiting the clinic.

The hospital does not assist with registration of new clients on the vaccine portal, everyone is expected to self-register.

Contact the vaccine hotline for any assistance at 0860 142 142.

The extra service will result is an increase in patient flow into the hospital and users of the services are asked to be patient and adhere strictly to the Covid-19 protocols.

You can play your part in reducing transmission by washing and sanitising your hands regularly, wearing your mask correctly and maintaining a safe social distance and registering for your vaccine.

More information is available on the Western Cape Covid -19 data dashboard, which also features active cases per sub-district, active cases per 100 000 and 7-day moving averages. Visit: https://coronavirus.westerncape.gov.za/covid-19-dashboard