The MEC for Health Maruping Lekwene said the Province was ready for the expected peak and had been taking lessons from other provinces which had already entered the peak of the storm.
THE NORTHERN Cape is only expected to reach its Covid-19 peak in September.
This is according to the Province’s MEC for Health, Maruping Lekwene, who was speaking during a media briefing in Kimberley on Wednesday.
Lekwene said the Northern Cape was ready for the expected peak and had been taking lessons from other provinces which had already entered the peak of the storm.
“We will enter the eye of the storm soon. The prediction is that the storm will be in the middle towards the end of September. We have received confirmation from all districts in the Province that they are in a position to respond during the expected peak,” said Lekwene.
According to the MEC, the Province currently has almost 3 000 beds ready. “We are working on increasing that number to 4 000 beds.
We have 65 intensive care unit (ICU) beds ready and we are busy putting oxygen on those beds.”
Lekwene also gave the assurance that there were enough ventilators in the Province.
“It is vital that there is enough oxygen and sufficient ventilators which will help save lives, so we are working on increasing our oxygen capacity. We are also looking at equipping the new De Aar Hospital, as well as other clinics and hospitals in the Province, in order for them to assist people who may need hospitalisation when the peak hits the Province.”
He added that lessons had been taken from the Western Cape and Gauteng provinces in order to prepare adequately.
“Some of the provinces were over-prepared and their infection rate during the peak was not as initially predicted. However, as a province, we want to ensure that we have adequate equipment and manpower to assist our people should the worst happen,” he said.
Lekwene said the Province had also made preparations to increase its manpower to fight the virus.
“We have additional nursing staff at the hospitals across the Province. Each district employed 20 additional nurses which culminated in a total of 100 nurses. An additional 60 nurses were added to that number. We have also started recruiting more doctors and we aim to have 30 additional doctors. We have deployed 20 thus far and still need to appoint a further 10. We also have increased staff in other fields in the health care sector, such as emergency medical staff and groundsmen, to increase our teams,” Lekwene said.
The MEC added that he had been keeping a close eye on the infection rates in the districts.
“We have visited all five districts in the past two weeks to monitor and assess the situation. We had a challenge in Noupoort, which was declared a hot spot. However, the infection rate in that area has decreased and the situation is currently under control. We now see that the Emthanjeni municipal area will be the next hot spot. The Frances Baard District however remains the hot spot of the Province due to the high number of infections. We are, however, impressed with the recovery rate in Frances Baard and that is a sign that we can beat the virus,” said Lekwene.
He added that the “drastic” increase in the number of Covid-19-related deaths in the Province was a concern.
“The death toll due to Covid-19 in the Province is currently at 68. The death toll has increased drastically in the last two weeks. That is very concerning for government, especially when taking into account the number of people in the Province. We have also lost four public servants, three nurses and one groundsman, who died as a result of Covid-19.”
Lekwene said that nine Covid-19 positive patients were currently in the ICU. “We have nine patient in the ICU. Six patients are in the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital (in Kimberley) and three are in the Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington.”
He added that some good news was that the number of new cases in the Province had decreased in the last 24 hours.
“In the past we had more than 100 new infections overnight. However, in the last 24 hours we had 59 new positive cases reported. That might be credited to the massive awareness campaigns, where we have been working diligently to educate and inform people about how they can protect themselves against the coronavirus. We have especially targeted people in informal settlements and told them about the Covid-19 regulations,” he said.
Lekwene added that although there were national reports of government officials being involved in personal protective equipment (PPE) tender fraud, no incidents had been reported in the Northern Cape.
“We do not have a shortage of PPEs in the Province as we have been procuring PPEs on a continuous basis. We also had donations of PPEs from the private and mining sector. We do not have any issues regarding the procurement of PPE tenders in the Province.”
He said that the department had been deliberating on the slow recovery rate in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District. “We have increased our tracing capacity in JTG. We have noticed that the recovery rate is very low in terms of the infection and active cases in the district. We have sensed that it may be due to the layout of the district and that there is under-reporting from the tracing teams in that district. However, we are investigating the matter.”
Lekwene called on residents to continue to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations in order to not only ensure their personal safety but also the safety of others.