Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS & WESTERN CAPE

Use quarantine facilities, urges health department boss as province heads for peak infection rate

Use quarantine facilities, urges health department boss as province heads for peak infection rate
Keith Cloete, the Western Cape’s head of health, said there was an ‘acute drive for people in hotspots’ to take up spaces in quarantine and isolation sites across the province. (Photo: Nasief Manie)

Until there is a vaccine for Covid-19, there needs to be education on mask-wearing and basic hygiene, says the Western Cape departmental head of health, Dr Keith Cloete.

As the Western Cape heads towards its Covid-19 peak in the coming weeks, the provincial health authorities have urged people who are either waiting for test results or are unable to self-isolate at home to make use of quarantine and isolation facilities across the province.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, at his weekly virtual media briefing, on Thursday 18 June, said the provincial peak is expected to occur towards the end of June continuing into early July.

By Thursday at 5pm, the province had 46,951 confirmed cases, with 32,953 recoveries and 1,276 Covid-19 related deaths.

Winde’s briefing featured an update on the province’s progress, the hotspot plan and a brief update on informal research into comorbidities that has been done in the province. In attendance along with Winde were officials from the provincial health department: Professor Mary-Anne Davies, head of Department Dr Keith Cloete and MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo. They were joined by MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell and departmental head Graham Paulse.

As cases are expected to steadily increase over the next few weeks, Mbombo urged those who live in conditions where they cannot self-isolate to seek quarantine and isolation sites put up by the provincial and national government. Mbombo said these sites were “part of the suppression and containment” of the virus.

Cloete said there was an “acute drive for people in hotspots” to take up spaces in quarantine and isolation sites across the province.

But he warned that “Covid-19 is going to be with us until we have a vaccine”, and until then it was necessary to keep educating people about mask-wearing and basic hygiene principles.

When asked by journalists why the province had such high rates of Covid-19, Cloete said this was due to local transmission that had occurred pre-lockdown.

“We know for certain we had local transmission towards the end of March,”  said the departmental head. This was due to the earlier testing regime that only tested people who had a history of travel, or had been in contact with those who had been travelling – referred to as “imported cases”. When testing criteria were lowered, local transmission was already in place, said Cloete.

Davies, a public health specialist who works in the health department, said that initially, data from other countries showed underlying comorbidity risk factors for Covid-19 were diabetes, cardiac disease, respiratory or kidney diseases or being overweight.

But in the South African context, there had not been any indication of how factors such as tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS had an impact on Covid-19. Unofficial, preliminary research by the health department showed that for every 100 deaths in the public sector, these were the underlying comorbidities people had:

  • 52 deaths can be attributed to diabetes;
  • 19 can be attributed to high blood pressure;
  • 12 can be attributed to HIV
  • Nine can be attributed to kidney disease; and
  • Six can be attributed to TB (two were current tuberculosis cases and four were previous tuberculosis cases).

Additional news that came out of the briefing was that the backlog of testing, which was at 30,000 at one point, was now cleared. Last week, there had been a backlog of 2,300 test results, but this was now resolved, said Cloete. DM

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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