Although registration for over 35s to get their Covid-19 vaccine opened yesterday, Thursday July 15, the Western Cape Government said the group will only start receiving the shot from Sunday August 1.
At the weekly digital press conference yesterday, premier Alan Winde said he was excited that registration was open to those in the 35-49 year age bracket.
However, he encouraged them to wait for their appointment, which will be sent via SMS.
“This is because we still have many people in the 50+ and 60+ bracket to vaccinate.
“Our prioritisation for walk-ins remains the same: people who are over 60 years requiring their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine; people who are over 60 years requiring their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine; and people who are between 50 -59 years requiring their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.”
Mr Winde said while the Western Cape is beginning to see a slowing down in new Covid-19 cases, there were still increases in hospitalisations and deaths, and he urged the community to be vigilant.
This follows a 13.5% increase in new infections being recorded this week, compared to 29% in the previous week.
Mr Winde said while he was concerned about the looting and unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng this week, the Western Cape has, to date, had no looting incidents, however, the taxi violence was a concern.
He said the disaster management department was analysing what products and pharmaceuticals came from KwaZulu-Natal, what the implications of the unrest were and what the provincial government can do to help.
MEC for health, Nomafrench Mbombo, said the taxi violence had put pressure on the trauma sections of hospitals, and some health care workers were unable to get to work.
Following rumours of unrest in the city centre on Wednesday, the clinic in the Golden Acre had been temporarily closed as a pre-cautionary measure, and staff at the clinic have been redirected to District Six community centre.
“We are working with SAPS to assess the safety of the site and will reopen when SAPS is satisfied,” said the premier’s spokesperson, Cayla Murray.
On Wednesday July 14, commuters in the city centre ran for safety thinking there was a shooting after a taxi backfired while there was a heated argument between taxi associations.
No incidents were reported and SAPS said the rumours of unrest were false.
Ms Mbombo called for a safe passage for health workers.
“It is crucial and they need to be given the space to go to hospitals and clinics in order to keep the system running.”
She said in the next few weeks, the Western Cape Department of Health is planning pop-up clinics to reach those in communities who cannot get to a vaccination site and to educate those who know little about the vaccine, to give people a better understanding so that they could make informed choices.
Mr Winde said as the Western Cape reaches the peak of the third wave, the government has scaled up their capacity to prepare.
He said the provincial health platform shows that case numbers are continuing to increase, although at a slower rate, and the Western Cape is seeing an average of 2335 new diagnoses each day.
The proportion of positive Covid-19 tests has remained high at around 32%.
Hospital admissions were increasing with an average of 280 new admissions a day, and deaths have also increased now to about 60 deaths a day.
“The Western Cape Government is scaling up its Covid-19 capacity. We are ensuring we remain prepared for the third wave peak, in line with our clearly identified trigger points.”
He said to prepare, the Province had de-escalated non-Covid services to maintain essential care and demarcated patients under investigation, Covid-19 ward and Covid-19 critical care capacity at hospitals.
“This will ensure we use the full planned capacity of 2300 public sector Covid-19 beds.”
He said they were fully commissioning field hospital capacity in Brackengate (336 beds), Mitchell’s Plain Hospital of Hope (200 beds), Freesia and Ward 99 (75 beds), Western Cape Rehabilitation Centres (26 beds), Sonstraal Hospital (68 beds) and rural hospitals.
In the Western Cape, the total general bed use rate is at 84%, the total Covid-19 bed use rate is at 50%, and the total designated Covid-19 critical care bed use rate is at 96%.
Mr Winde said despite a hard week, the Western Cape had exceeded the vaccination targets.
“Against a target of 120 000 vaccines, we administered 133 390. From Wednesday to yesterday, 30 000 people in the province were vaccinated – the highest number vaccinated in 24 hours on record.
“Going forward, we will have the capacity to reach a minimum of 150 000 people a week or 30 000 a day, subject to supply.
“To date, we have vaccinated 708 258 eligible persons which include those over 60, over 50, healthcare workers as part of the Sisonke trial, and the education sector. Of these, 199 796 are fully vaccinated.”
To date, a total of 92 private sector sites, including 66 in the Metro and 26 in rural communities have also been brought online.
The mass Vaccination Centre of Hope had also recently opened at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, and efforts are under way to set up the Athlone Stadium as another mass site.
“We are also continuing in our efforts to register and vaccinate those in rural settings through roving teams performing outreaches and visiting satellite clinics.”
Mr Winde called on residents to protect themselves and their families from infection and transmission by practising the lifesaving behaviours including avoiding large crowds, wearing your mask correctly by covering both your nose and mouth; and washing and sanitising your hands regularly.
“The time has come for us to protect our bubbles and our loved ones, and to flatten the curve as we start approaching our peak. This will help save lives, and ensure that we can keep on moving forward.
“I want to be very clear that we are not out of the woods yet and we must continue to do everything in our power to break the chain of transmission so that we flatten the peak as much as possible.
“This will protect our healthcare system and save lives.”