WESTERN CAPE NEWS - While the Western Cape Government has announced a drop of 14% in known Covid-19 active cases since 6 July in the Metro, the Garden Route is in a strong upward curve of infections and deaths.
The newspaper's last printed update, on Thursday 16 July, reported 64 deaths. The latest number communicated to George Herald, on Tuesday 21 July, was 89 deaths.
Asked when the Garden Route is expected to peak, Western Cape Health Department district spokesperson Nadia Ferreira said various factors must be taken into account and it is difficult to confirm when the peak will be.
"We can confirm that if the curve of the Garden Route is similar to that of the Cape Metro, our district will probably reach a peak within the next few weeks. We're looking at about six weeks. We are in a strong upward movement of the curve."
She said hospitalisations are increasing. "We remind the public, especially those with underlying comorbidities, to be extra careful and stay at home as far as possible."
The average number of active cases per 100 000 of the population is 291, with Mossel Bay having the highest rate with 451 per 100 000, Knysna second with 424 and George third with 342.
Ferreira said hospitals are coping with the patient load. On 21 July, 15 patients were being treated for Covid-19. As a precaution, staff have been recruited to ensure enough people are on duty when Covid-19 infections among staff occur. By 21 July, a total of 56 personnel of the hospital have tested positive, of whom 37 have recovered. Two are in ICU.
"Not all these are nursing staff, but are from various departments of the hospital."
In the Garden Route district, 157 staff have tested positive to date.
Ferreira said with community transmission being established, the virus can be picked up anywhere and staff are not necessarily infected while on duty. "The department offers free counselling to nursing staff. Management communicates daily with staff and they are encouraged to discuss any queries and concerns with their line managers."
George Mediclinic manager Kassie Karstens said on 22 July, they had nine Covid-19 patients in ICU and 11 in the general ward. "Our staff situation is under control. We have upskilled several staff members to assist in the ICU and high care ward should it become necessary.
"Several volunteers have helped us in the administrative areas, for which we are very grateful. The Covid-19 admissions have again increased this week, but the situation is still under control."
'Easing of pressure'
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said in a digital briefing last week that the health platform in the Western Cape is managing the pandemic. "We are starting to see a gentle easing of pressure in the Metro in particular, with a possible decline. This is noticed in the most robust data available to us: hospitalisations and deaths."
However, he said it that is too early to say the worst is over. "We simply do not know enough about the virus to claim so. We are still in the midst of a serious health pandemic."
10-day isolation period
National Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that South Africa will adopt a 10-day isolation period for Covid-19 cases instead of 14 days. This is for cases with mild symptoms, and is in line with new protocols released by the World Health Organisation.
Severe cases who need to be hospitalised may be infectious for a longer period. The isolation period for them is 10 days from when clinical stability is reached.
A coronavirus vaccine developed by the University of Oxford that is being tested on 1 077 people, has triggered an immune response. It appears to be safe and it is now a question of waiting to see if it provides protection.
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