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Health MEC concerned over 55% rise in Covid cases in Northern Cape

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MEC Maruping Lekwene says there was a 41% increase in the number of patients who were admitted to hospital due to Covid-19 complications.

Health MEC Maruping Lekwene. File picture: Danie van der Lith

THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Health, Maruping Lekwene, has expressed concern over the sharp rise in Covid-19 infections in the Province, where there has been a 55 percent increase in the number of cases over the Christmas holidays.

Lekwene said that 780 new cases were reported from December 24 to 30. “During the seven-day period, between December 31, 2020 to January 6, 2021, there were 1,208 new cases reported,” he pointed out.

Lekwene added that emergency and trauma hospital admissions had decreased between 50 to 75 percent since the introduction of the alcohol ban.

“This demonstrates a direct association between alcohol misuse and trauma admissions. More than 90 percent of the cases that were attended to in the emergency unit over the New Year’s weekend were not alcohol related. This has greatly assisted the hospitals’ ability to focus on Covid-19 patients.”

He said that there was a 41 percent increase in the number of patients who were admitted to hospital due to Covid-19 complications.

Lekwene said that 3,300 hospital beds were made available for Covid-19 patients in the Province. “This includes more than 114 high and intensive care beds.”

He added that, overall, the Province recorded a daily positivity rate of 28 percent, with the Namakwa District recording the highest increase at 50 percent and Frances Baard recording the lowest increase.

He said that despite the introduction of the adjusted Level 3 restrictions, there has been an increase in cases in all districts.

“According to the provincial Covid-19 situational analysis, the increase in cases can be attributed to non-compliance with regulations, particularly over the festive season.

“The Namakwa District has become a potential Covid-19 hot-spot in the Province,” Lekwene warned.

“On January 9, 332 new cases were reported. This is the third time in less than a week that daily cases exceeded 300. The last time the Province detected 300 cases in a day was on October 4, 2020. This brings the total cumulative cases in the Province to 27,648, which translates to 2,223 cases per 100,000 people.”

The MEC said that the first batch of vaccines was expected to arrive in the country towards the end of January.

“Initially we will receive 1.5 million doses, with more vaccines being made available in the later months.

“The vaccine will be distributed to provinces in glass vials. Each vial of this particular vaccine holds 10 doses that is equivalent to 10 injections for 10 people.”

Lekwene said that the first people to receive vaccinations would be health care workers such as doctors, porters, nurses, cleaners and clerks who worked closely with patients.

“The national Department of Health has established a national vaccine co-ordinating committee. This consists of top managers and clinicians from the provincial Health departments, private health providers, medical schemes and civil society. A similar structure is being established in each province.”

He added that information systems would be rapidly set up with the use of existing databases to record and administer the details of all recipients of the vaccines.

“The country needs to vaccinate almost 70 percent of the population (roughly 40 million people) in order to reach the levels for herd immunity before the end of 2021.”

Lekwene said medical schemes would be responsible for funding the vaccinations of all members.

“They will also fund the vaccination of more people as part of their social solidarity contribution. The government, supported by the private sector, will be responsible for everyone else.

“There will be more information issued on the prioritisation and phasing of who should be vaccinated and when, based on a risk analysis.”

Lekwene stressed that it was essential that non-pharmaceutical interventions were strengthened by taking precautions, including wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing and practising regular hand hygiene.