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Premier Alan Winde addresses weekly digital press conference

21 Oct 2021

Media release by Premier Winde at his weekly digital press conference

"The third wave was associated with a 9% increased risk of death in COVID-19 cases, but the risk was 26% higher among unvaccinated. Let’s get vaccinated to protect ourselves and save lives.”

During my weekly digital press conference today, we reviewed the impact of the third wave compared to previous waves, while also looking at the impact of the vaccine programme in saving lives. The findings clearly show the importance of getting vaccinated as soon as possible.

Our analysis shows us that the third wave was associated with a 9% increased risk of death in COVID-19 cases, but that the risk was 26% higher among those unvaccinated.

Over a 12-week period during the third wave, those aged 50 years and older accounted for 30% of cases, 60% of hospital admissions and 83% of deaths.

While being over 50 years old and having comorbidities has consistently remained the greatest risk factor for hospital admission and deaths in all waves, our analysis further shows us that there was a decrease in cases and admissions in the older age groups who were vaccinated.

This means the best defence for those 50 years and older, or with comorbidities, is to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure that we reduce pressure on our healthcare platform in subsequent waves and prevent deaths.

“COVID-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths continue to decline. Let’s continue to be vigilant as we approach the summer season.”

We are fast approaching the summer season where many of us will enjoy reconnecting with family and loved ones, while also taking a well-deserved break. As we approach this season, it is encouraging to see that COVID-19 cases, admissions and deaths continue to decline. Let’s continue to be vigilant so that we can have a summer to look forward to.

Our healthcare platform shows us that across the province:

  • The proportion of positive COVID-19 tests has decreased to 4%. This is compared to 42% at its highest point on 26 July 2021.
  • We are currently seeing an average of 127 new diagnoses a day. This is compared to 3543 at its highest point on 17 August 2021.
  • We are currently seeing an average of 31 new admissions and 6 deaths each day. This is down from 362 new admissions and around 122 deaths at its highest point on 1 August and 30 July 2021 respectively.

To ensure that we have a safe and enjoyable break, we will need to play our part and continue practising the lifesaving behaviours that we have learnt to prevent infection in the coming weeks and months.

“Our planning for the third wave ensured that we had enough beds and oxygen capacity” 

In preparing for the third wave, we 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.

Insofar as our acute service platform is concerned:

  • Currently, there are 1406 COVID-19 patients in our acute hospitals, including 684 in public hospitals and 722 in private hospitals. This excludes persons under investigation and cases in specialised hospital settings.
  • The Metro hospitals have an average bed occupancy rate of 91%; George drainage area hospitals at 72%; Paarl drainage area hospitals at 66% and Worcester drainage area hospitals at 67%. Critical care bed occupancy rate for designated COVID-19 beds for the province at 33%.
  • COVID-19 and persons under investigation cases currently make up 5% of all available acute general hospital capacity in both Metro and Rural Regional Hospital drainage areas.
  • COVID-19 inter-mediate care: the Brackengate Hospital of Hope currently has 46 patients or a 13.69% bed occupancy rate, Sonstraal currently has 2 clients or a 10.29% bed occupancy rate; and Freesia and Ward 99 have no patients.

In line with decreased COVID-19 pressure on our healthcare platform, we have now decommissioned the Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope and the Metro Mass Fatality Centre. Additional capacity remains available when required.

“We are ensuring that we have sufficient staff capacity ahead of the fourth wave, in line with demand”

The previous waves have taken a significant toll on our healthcare workers, who have worked long hours, been at higher risk of infections, and who have also lost loved ones, including family and colleagues to the virus.

Ensuring their wellbeing and safety is critical in our response to the pandemic, which is why we have already begun our workforce planning ahead of the fourth wave.

Our workforce planning includes:

  • Currently, there are 781 additional staff appointed for our COVID-19 response;
  • We have appointed 1459 healthcare workers and support staff which includes 610 interns for the vaccination drive;
  • We have extended contracts until the end of December to ensure continued staff capacity for the health platform in anticipation of a fourth wave; and
  • A total of 785 applicants can still be appointed if needed

We are further supporting our healthcare workers by ensuring that vaccination training continues. To date, we have:

  • 6348 registered vaccinators on health platform; and
  • 4245 trained vaccinators to date.

I want to sincerely thank the many healthcare workers who have seen us through the third and previous waves. You have consistently been a beacon of hope for all of us throughout the pandemic.

“Western Cape Government plans to bring vaccines to communities through mobile and pop-up vaccine sites”

We are increasingly using pop-ups and satellite vaccination sites to ensure that no person is left behind in our vaccine programme. This will ensure that we boost our vaccine numbers by bringing vaccines closer to our communities.

To achieve this, we are focusing on areas with low vaccine uptake and are increasing outreach services. While doing so, we will also continue to have fixed vaccination sites in areas with high foot traffic and that are strategically placed.

By 20 October 2021, the total number of individuals vaccinated with at least one dose was 2 243 239 or 45% of the total adult population. We have also fully vaccinated a total of 1 681 838 people or 34% of the total adult population.

In terms of the total adult population vaccinated to date:

  • Of those 60 years and older, 61.40% have been fully vaccinated to date and 6.67% are partially vaccinated;
  • Of those between 50-59 years, 48.82% have been fully vaccinated to date and 8.74% are partially vaccinated;
  • Of those between 35 – 49 years, 35.99% have been fully vaccinated to date and 11.44% are partially vaccinated; and
  • Of those between 18 -34 years, 17.47% have been fully vaccinated to date and 13.53% are partially vaccinated; and

If we look at these figures more closely focussing on the sub-district level, of those 18 years and older we have registered:

  • 72.4% of the total adult population in the Western sub-district.
  • 55.1% of the total adult population in the Overberg sub-district.
  • 52% of the total adult population in the Southern sub-district.
  • 50.3% of the total adult population in the Northern sub-district.
  • 49.3% of the total adult population in the Eastern sub-district.
  • 48.9% of the total adult population in the Cape Winelands sub-district.
  • 48.3% of the total adult population in the Garden Route sub-district.
  • 44.9% of the total adult population in the Klipfontein sub-district.
  • 44.2% of the total adult population in the West Coast sub-district.
  • 42.2% of the total adult population in the Tygerberg sub-district.
  • 37.3% of the total adult population in the Central Karoo sub-district.
  • 27.9% of the total adult population in the Khayelitsha sub-district.
  • 27.6% of the total adult population in the Mitchells Plain sub-district.

There is still a long way to go, and we are determined to do as much as we can to ensure that no person who wants to get vaccinated is left behind.

“Let’s get vaccinated ahead of the summer season”

Vaccines really are our best defence against severe COVID-19 illness and will help us to save lives. That is why I especially encourage those over 50 to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

It has never been easier or quicker to get vaccinated. The entire process takes on average 30 minutes – including observation time. You can simply walk into any one of our vaccine sites where you will be assisted.

If you are unsure, or anxious, please do speak to a healthcare worker at your local clinic. We want to help you make an informed choice, by providing you with the facts that you want.

With just 6 weeks left to December, the next few weeks will be critical. If you get your first dose today, you will have full protection by the festive season, which is a time of joy, socialising and celebration in our province. I encourage you to help save our summer, by getting vaccinated as soon as you can. It’s not too late to vaccinate.

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