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Western Cape expects 80 000 to be infected with Covid-19 when the virus peaks

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‘The lockdown has served to delay the peak in Covid-19 cases (but) it cannot prevent it. Lockdown, in whichever form it takes, will not make this problem go away.’

Cape Town – As many as 80 000 people in the Western Cape would be infected with the coronavirus during its peak in the province, Premier Alan Winde has warned.

He revealed as much on Tuesday during a Facebook briefing on the province’s Covid-19 planning and health systems readiness.

Winde was joined by Health

MEC Nomafrench Mbombo; head of Provincial Health Keith Cloete; and Andrew Boulle from the Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Research.

A shortfall of 1000 and 750 beds in acute and critical care facilities respectively had been anticipated for the region, Winde said.

“At the front line of our Covid-19 team are our healthcare workers. We have 14000 healthcare workers and so far 47 of those workers have tested positive for Covid-19,” he added.

According to Winde, the safety of the province’s healthcare workers should be prioritised. He said the province had personal protective equipment (PPE) worth R44m in stock, with R185m worth of PPE on back order.

“We will continue our recruitment drive for healthcare volunteers. We have already 1000 volunteers who have come through our website, and anybody else who would like to make themselves available we ask them to contact us.

“There will (also) be people who need to be isolated at a facility because they are not able to stay at home, and we should welcome them back warmly once they have recovered from this virus.

“The lockdown has served to delay the peak in Covid-19 cases (but) it cannot prevent it. Lockdown, in whichever form it takes, will not make this problem go away. We cannot just go back to the norm.

“We have to adopt a new normal in the way that we behave in order to continue to flatten the curve and save lives. We need to all do this, even more so going forward to reduce the peak of infections and prevent our health systems from becoming overwhelmed.”

Cloete said local transmissions had risen sharply in the province, specifically in factories, supermarkets and other workplaces where essential services workers were still reporting for duty. Testing in the public sector had increased, he added.

“We started screening in communities, but we very quickly realised that the best way to screen and test is to follow where the cluster of cases are. To date, 81629 people have been screened and 3818 tests have been done from community screenings,” Cloete said.

Boulle added that as many as 7000 beds would be needed in acute care at the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak in the province.

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Cape Argus