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Health dept aims to vaccinate 900,000 people in the Northern Cape

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Northern Cape Department of Health briefs Parliament on health care services in the Province in relation to Covid-19

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THE DEPARTMENT of Health aims to vaccinate 67 percent of the population in the Northern Cape against Covid-19 in order to develop herd immunity.

The department is developing new plans to roll out the Johnson and Johnson and other vaccines for front-line health care workers, subject to additional scientific evidence, after the AstraZeneca vaccine roll-out was halted due to it only having a 22 percent efficacy against the new Covid-19 variant that is dominant in South Africa.

During a briefing to Parliament on Wednesday, the department said that to vaccinate the 900,000 citizens in the Northern Cape was “an enormous logistical challenge as vaccines were in great demand worldwide”.

During a briefing by the Northern Cape Department of Health on health care services in the Province in relation to Covid-19 to Parliament on Wednesday, the head of department, Dr Dion Theys, indicated that the number of hospital admissions in both the public and private sector had decreased – from 161 on January 24 to 124 patients on February 7.

He stated that the number of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions decreased from 33 on January 31 to 23 on February 7, while the number of ventilated patients in ICU decreased from 28 on January 31 to eight by February 7.

Theys indicated that while more women had been infected, more men had succumbed to the coronavirus in the Province.

He said that a surge in the number of infections in the Namakwa District had been observed for the week ending January 17.

“The Namakwa District is the corridor between the Western Cape and Namibia and is also where emerging mining and solar plants are mushrooming. The surge was contributed by travellers.”

Theys said that the number of infections had dropped when the adjusted Level 3 restrictions were implemented in January.

“There were 145 deaths since the start of the year. Deaths reported in 2021 are the highest since the start of the pandemic, surpassing the previous peak recorded in August 2020. This is partly attributed to improved reporting,” he added.

Theys stated that during the first-wave surge in June and July,1,552 cases were reported for the week ending July 2 followed by a flattening of the curve.

He said the highest peak (1,644 cases) occurred during the week ending September 20. “The first wave was almost over by the week ending November 14, with 328 new cases.

“Since the initial stages of the pandemic through to the end of the first wave there were a total of 22,700 reported cases with a recovery rate of 82 percent. There were 311 deaths due to Covid-19 during this period.”

He added that low infection rates were recorded between November 15 and December 5, where a total of 781 new cases and 24 Covid-19-related deaths were reported.

“The second wave started the week ending December 12, followed by a rapid surge which rose to 1,898 new cases by the end of the week ending January 17.

“By week ending February 6, the peak was starting to subside and the number of cases dropped back to 617.

“Between December 6 and February 6, the Province had 8,810 new cases. We also witnessed 274 people losing their lives to Covid-19.”

Theys said that since the start of the year, 64 percent of people who died of Covid-19 had comorbidities such as diabetes and hypertension.

“The age group with more reported deaths in January has shifted from 70 years and older to people between 50 and 69 years accounting for 71 percent of deaths.”

He indicated that 22 staff members, including 11 nurses, one TB tracer nurse, one doctor, one community health worker (CHW), four emergency medical services staff, one groundsman, one switchboard operator, one operational manager and one driver, had died of Covid-19 in the Province as of February 5.