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Premier Alan  Winde holds weekly digital press conference

30 Sep 2021

“Western Cape health data from the third wave shows that residents 50 years and older are most at risk of severe illness & death from COVID-19 and must urgently get vaccinated”

During my weekly digital press conference today, the Provincial Department of Health presented a breakdown of COVID-19 related deaths during the third wave to share insights on what we have learnt and guide us going forward.

The data shows us that those aged 50 years and older are at the highest risk of severe illness and death after COVID-19 infection and that they must urgently get vaccinated to save lives, reduce the pressure on our health platform and save jobs.

Between 10 June and 24 September 2021, it was found that:

  • Of the 215 006 cases, 30% were recorded in those 50 years and older;
  • Of the 24 445 hospital admissions, 60% were recorded in those 50 years and older; and
  • Of the 7 423 deaths, 83% were recorded in those 50 years and older.

I call on residents, particularly those 50 years and older, to ensure that they are fully vaccinated ahead of the December holidays so that we can all have a safe and relaxing December break, with the knowledge that we have maximum protection against the virus. 

To play your part and ensure that you are fully vaccinated by the start of the festive season on 1 December, you will need to:

  • Receive your first dose of the Pfizer vaccine by 20 October 2021.
  • Receive your second dose of Pfizer vaccine 42 days after. This means that you will have received your second dose by 1 December 2021.
  • If you receive the second dose on 1 December, you will get maximum immunisation response from Pfizer 14 days later, just in time for the start of the festive season holidays.

I specifically want to appeal to residents who are over 50 years old, or who have comorbidity to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Our data shows us that comorbidities, including Diabetes, Hypertension, Chronic Kidney Disease, Asthma, TB and HIV/AIDs are most prevalent among those who have died from COVID-19 during the third wave.

Throughout each wave, our data has consistently shown that this group is at the highest risk of being hospitalised, ending up in ICU and dying. You need to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

“COVID-19 vaccine protects those at highest risk during the third wave” 

The data presented during my digital press conference today also shows us that COVID-19 related cases, hospitalisations and deaths are lower and less extreme among those who are 50 years and older and who are vaccinated.

Between 10 June and 24 September 2021, we see that of those between 50-59 years:

  • While a relatively low number of the total population were fully vaccinated, standing at 10% by mid-August, data indicates increased protection among both fully and partially vaccinated individuals in this age group. 
  • There is no evidence of increased risk of COVID-19 infection, severe disease or death in the few weeks immediately following vaccination.

Between 10 June and 24 September 2021, the data shows us that those over 60:

  • Continue to enjoy high levels of protection against severe disease and death were fully vaccinated.
  • Partial vaccination also provides protection, but less so than those fully vaccinated.
  • There is no evidence of increased risk of COVID-19 infection, severe disease or death in the few weeks immediately following vaccination.

This shows us that vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe illness and even death among high-risk groups. Please play your part in protecting yourself by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

“The Western Cape has officially exited the peak of the third wave – it’s time to end the National State of Disaster”

Earlier this week it was confirmed that the Western Cape has officially exited the peak of the third wave. 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.

Our healthcare platform shows us that across the province:

  • The proportion of positive COVID-19 tests has decreased to 9.2%.
  • Admissions and deaths continue to decline, with an average of 80 new admissions and around 25 deaths each day.

That is why I have called for the termination of the National State of Disaster by President Cyril Rampahosa during my engagement in the President’s Coordinating Council meeting today. Provincial Governments should rather be empowered to manage the response to the pandemic going forward, in line with a differentiated model.

“We are decommissioning the Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope and the Metro Mass Fatality Centre in line with decreased demand”

We have tailored our 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 throughout the pandemic. 

Insofar as our acute service platform is concerned:

  • Currently, there are 1905 COVID-19 patients in our acute hospitals with 1027 in public hospitals and 878 in private hospitals. This excludes persons under investigation and cases in specialised hospital settings.
  • The Metro hospitals have an average bed occupancy rate of 92%; George drainage area hospitals at 67%; Paarl drainage area hospitals at 69% and Worcester drainage area hospitals at 65%. Critical care bed occupancy rate for designated COVID-19 beds for the province is at 50%.
  • COVID-19 and persons under investigation cases currently make up 10% of all available acute general hospital capacity in both Metro and Rural Regional Hospital drainage areas.
  • COVID inter-mediate care: the Brackengate Hospital of Hope currently has 103 patients with a bed occupancy rate of 30.6%. Sonstraal currently has 34 clients or a bed occupancy rate of 53%.
  • The Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope has been decommissioned, but the infrastructure enhancements remain on standby to be used in future.
  • The Metro mass fatality centre has a capacity for 240 bodies. Currently, there are no decedents admitted. This facility will be decommissioned.

In preparing for the third wave, we have revised our planning with clearly identified trigger points to ensure an agile response. This careful planning has ensured that our healthcare platform can meet the demands placed on it throughout the wave, despite the pressure faced. Additional capacity remains available when required.

“We encourage you to make use of your vaccine opportunity ahead of December”

If we are to save our summer and save lives and jobs in the Western Cape, we need to ensure as many people are fully vaccinated by the start of our festive season on 1st December. For this to happen, we need to get our first dose by 20 October – less than a month away.

I encourage you to not delay your appointment or wait for your SMS to come for your first vaccination. and to get to your nearest vaccine site as soon as possible. In turn, we will continue to play our part in ensuring a world-class vaccination programme, and service delivery at each vaccination site across our province.

For your second vaccination, please look out for your SMS reminder, to ensure you are within the correct period of 42 days between vaccines. Some of our first over 18 citizens, will shortly be eligible for their second vaccine.

We have scaled up our vaccine sites to administer up to 50 000 vaccines a day. By 29 September 2021, a total of 2 851 485 vaccines had been administered in the province. Of those vaccines administered:

  • 2 004 410 or 40.27% of those over 18 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; and
  • 1 2788 885 or 25.88% of the total population are fully vaccinated.

Up to 29 September 2021, the public sector has received 2 767 240 vaccine doses which include 2 346 510 doses of Pfizer and 420 730 doses of Johnson & Johnson.

I encourage you to make use of our world-class vaccine sites, particularly over the VOOMA weekend on 1-2 October where you will the opportunity to be vaccinated in a safe and conveniently located setting. There are over 120 vaccination sites open this weekend, which is a great kick-off to our push towards our vaccination targets in our province.

“Thank you to each healthcare worker who has seen us through the third wave”

I want to whole-heartedly thank each and every single healthcare worker who has seen us through the third wave. Thank you for your compassion, your dedication and your selfless commitment to caring for those most in need. We are truly indebted to you.

In turn, I call on the people of the Western Cape to show their gratitude by continuing to practise the lifesaving behaviours that we have learnt throughout the pandemic. 

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