COVID-19 UPDATE

Western Cape: Weekend vaccinations to be boosted in wake of taxi violence disruptions to roll-out

By Victoria O’Regan 22 July 2021

Mbekweni Community Hall Vaccination Site on June 22, 2021 in Paarl, Western Cape. (Photo: Gallo Images/ER Lombard)

Taxi violence has disrupted the vaccination roll-out in the province in the past week, Western Cape health officials warned on Thursday. To make up for it a number of public vaccination sites will be open on Saturday. This comes as the province is gripped by a third wave of Covid-19 infections.

Victoria O’Regan

“The taxi violence has impacted on some of our vaccination sites,” said Western Cape health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, during Thursday’s virtual briefing, which was held with premier Alan Winde and health department head Dr Keith Cloete. 

Mbombo said that at vaccination sites in areas including Gugulethu, Nyanga and Khayelitsha, people had to be directed elsewhere and some sites were forced to close on Monday and Tuesday amid the unrest and restrictions on transport. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Why the Western Cape is being rocked by taxi violence

Mbombo appealed for safe passage for healthcare workers, who depend on public transport to get to work and whose transportation has been disrupted by the violence. 

According to a Western Cape health department presentation, 151,772 vaccinations were administered in the province between 12 to 18 July. 

Between 19 and 21 July, only 90,474 had been administered. 

To help make up the numbers a number of public vaccination sites will be open on Saturday, 24 July, including in Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu, Stellenbosch and False Bay, said Cloete. 

These public vaccination sites in the Western Cape will be open on Saturday, 24 July 2021, after some sites in the province were affected by taxi violence. (Photo: Screenshot/Western Cape Health Department health update)

The violence has also disrupted mobile bus vaccinations to outlying areas including Klipheuwel, Philadelphia and Fisantekraal, said Mbombo. “On Monday we had to pause the services because of the taxi violence, because the driver felt it wasn’t safe for him to be able to [drive] there.”

Cloete said the number of trauma cases in Western Cape hospitals increased in the past week, and taxi violence has no doubt played a role. 

“In the last seven days we have seen an increase in trauma, and it’s not related to the [alcohol ban] or restrictions on movement – it can only be related to the impact of the recent taxi violence and associated trauma in community settings,” he said. 

The Western Cape had recorded a 9.1% increase in the number of trauma patients in hospitals in the past week – from 1,378 to 1,540. 

Covid-19 infections 

There has been a 3.2% increase in Covid-19 infections in the province, which is significantly lower than last week’s 13.5% rise, said Cloete. 

There is a concern that Covid-19 testing has decreased owing to a range of factors, including taxi violence, so it is unclear whether the province has reached the peak of the third wave, he said. 

The province was seeing a “flattening of cases”, with the Delta variant still dominating infections.

There were 32,730 active cases in the province, with an additional 1,358 (a 4.3% increase) in the past week.

There were currently 3,010 Covid-19 patients in hospitals in the Western Cape. Admissions continued to increase in both the public and private sectors, although the percentage increase was slightly lower than last week.

Vaccinations update 

Vaccine registration is now open for people aged 35 to 49, for whom jabs will be available from 1 August, said Cloete. 

A total of 1,064,481 people have registered for vaccination in the province. As of Wednesday night, 884,917 had received a shot.

The vaccine supply for next week had increased in the province, and on Friday, 23 July it would receive another 93,600 doses of the Pfizer jab. 

The Western Cape has also received confirmation that it will receive more doses of the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the next week, and the supply will start increasing in the coming weeks, Cloete added. 

There are 216 active public sector vaccination sites in the Western Cape – 72 in the metro and 144 in rural areas. 

There are 118 private sector sites, most of which (76) are at Clicks pharmacies. 

“We have to come up with various innovative ways in order not to leave anyone behind,” said Mbombo. 

Mobile bus vaccinations and pop-up vaccination sites are being used to target areas with low vaccination rates, she said. The pop-up sites in Hermanus and other areas in the Overberg had been successful in the past week. DM

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