More beds needed in preparation for anticipated hike in Covid-19 cases

Intensified Covid-19 health interventions will be carried out in the country's Covid-19 hotspots in an attempt to flatten the rising curve before hitting the peak, said Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday, after overseeing the state of health facilities in the Western Cape over two days.

Over the last two weeks, the province saw a hike in the number of deaths related to Covid-19 mounting to 525 out of 705 deaths the country has recorded. The Western Cape has 23,583 Covid-19 confirmed cases, thus far.

He said the health sector needed to ramp-up its measures to dodge a further hike in deaths in the province and throughout the country.

The department faced a backlog of about 90,000 tests which have not been processed yet.

He said with the backlog in Covid-19 tests results and kits, doctors would need to treat contact persons as if they tested positive and recommend isolation.

"We are going all out to get testing kits. The issue of the backlog is temporary. We will be able to solve it. No patient's life will be compromised by the backlog, it will be sorted."

On an average 19,000 to 20,000 people get tested a day. Mkhize said the department worked together with the private sector to assist with results, but it depends on the capacity of the laboratories.
Mkhize was impressed with the Western Cape health facilities' state of readiness as the country anticipates a hike in Covid-19 infections during winter.

"We are impressed with the speed of the health response in the province. The work that was done is in preparation for the huge surge expected. We want to make sure every person who tested positive can be in quarantine."

Mkhize, however, said the department was also working on cementing loopholes within the health sector as more beds were needed.

"We need the province to get more reserve beds quicker as the number of cases increase. The surge is coming a bit quicker, and we don't want to have more patients than beds."

He added that the private sector offered beds for the public health system.

"At the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), 860 beds are ready."

He said in the Khayelitsha sports centre, there were about 360 beds available.

Mkhize added the department was also working on area-based health responses taking into account demographics of each region for speedy and effective responses.

Mkhize said more buildings would be turned into quarantine sites as the number of infections increases.

He said the department was locating people with comorbidities for testing.

"We have shifted more resources to have more people tested in the Western Cape because of the sheer load of the number of confirmed cases."

More nurses will be hired by the department to cater to the increasing needs.

He said early detection and a strong health facility preparation would be key in the upcoming weeks.

Mkhize added that this was important for the country to prevent going into another full lockdown.

"The struggle against Covid-19 continues."

Most cases in the Western Cape have been due to a cluster outbreak. With the re-opening of the economy chances of these happening more have become higher. Mkhize said under Level 3, the department expected numbers to rise. He appealed to the public to practice health and safety measures to try and curb the spread of the virus.

Originally appeared on Rekord Centurion

For more news your way, download The Citizen's app for iOS and Android.