The Provincial Command Council met this week and reflected on the current lockdown level 2 regulations as well as its efforts in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
NORTHERN Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul has applauded the Province for rating the best in the country in terms of Covid-19 testing.
The premier, together with the provincial departments of Health and Education, briefed the media on Wednesday following a Provincial Command Council (PCC) meeting, where the council reflected on the current lockdown Level 2 regulations as well as its efforts in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
Saul said that the Province has maintained its ramped up testing and it has a testing rate of 905 persons per 100,000.
“Over the past few weeks we have greatly improved our testing capacity and in the last seven days we have tested over 12,000 people for Covid-19 in the Province,” said Saul. “This is an 8% increase compared to 11,000 in the previous week. This includes 2,668 close contacts of infected people who were newly listed for monitoring and testing.”
Saul also highlighted the recent spike in the number of Covid cases, where the Northern Cape reported the highest incidence of new cases in the country.
He noted that many schools in the Province had to close after pupils and teachers tested positive.
Saul welcomed the pronouncement by President Cyril Ramaphosa to adjust the lockdown to alert Level 2.
He urged members of the public to work together in limiting the spread of the virus in order to avoid moving to a higher lockdown level.
The premier also warned that the police would increase visibility, stop-and-searches and visits to key points to monitor compliance in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
“The higher numbers are an indication that we are moving closer to the third wave as a country and it will place a higher demand on health services. It could also result in the same disruptions to families and the economy as experienced in 2020,” said Saul.
“The Northern Cape province has 171 cases per 100,000 people, followed by the Free State with 105 cases per 100,000, and Gauteng with 71 cases per 100,000 persons.
“Improved case management, whereby individuals and communities are more aware of the symptoms and when to seek health care assistance, has resulted in an increase in hospital admissions over the past two weeks.
“The current admissions to hospital have remained stable as compared to the previous week, despite a slight increase in intensive care admissions.
“This is putting increased pressure on the high and intensive care facilities and the hospitals are actively seeking additional specialised nurses, including recruitment from agency staff providers,” added Saul.
He admitted to a critical challenge of oxygen supplies at key health facilities.
“Out of 20 key facilities, we have completed the upgrading as well as installation in 15 of these key health facilities. The remaining health facilities will be completed in due course. This intervention will ensure that patients can receive life-saving oxygen treatment at facilities closer to them instead of having to travel long distances.”
Saul assured the public that the Department of Health would continue to maintain the availability of PPE within the acceptable norms of between 80% and 95% and keep sufficient stock to keep staff safe.
“Although the provincial mortality rate remains one of the lowest in the country, at 22 per 1 000 people infected, it is still too high and we extend our sincerest condolences to everyone affected by Covid-19 related deaths,” he added.
To date, the Province has recorded 1,100 deaths due to Covid-19 since March 2020, of which 555 of them occurred since January 2021.
Sixty-four percent of people who died were in the age group of 60 years and older.
Seventy-nine percent of cases had underlying comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases.
Saul encouraged those eligible for vaccination to register and to take the opportunity to get vaccinated.
He said the Province is anticipating additional deliveries of vaccines from the national suppliers over the coming days, which will allow the opening of additional vaccination sites in Springbok, Calvinia and De Aar to complement the sites in Kimberley, Kuruman and Upington.
“Currently we are vaccinating around 800 people per day on average, but as more sites come online and more of our 60-plus community members register we will be able to build towards our target of 118,000 of this age group.”
The only vaccination site in Kimberley is Harmony Home. The Galeshewe Day Hospital (GDH) is an additional site that is anticipated to be opened in the near future to curb the long distances that the elderly community has to travel for vaccination.
“As of Monday we have vaccinated 15,666 persons. Out of this figure, 9,640 are health care workers and 6,026 are seniors 60 years and older.
“We are calling on our communities to assist their family members, colleagues and friends to encourage and register for their vaccination,” urged Saul.