Western Cape emergency centres buckling under pressure

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The Western Cape Health Department says the emergency centres of its hospitals are buckling under severe pressure. Hospitals throughout the province are seeing a sharp increase in both coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and deaths due to COVID-19 related complications as well as non-COVID trauma cases.

At least 1 000 people have died in the last two weeks in the province.

The Western Cape currently has more than 36 000 active cases, of which more than two thirds are in the Tygerberg sub-district.

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The department’s spokesperson, Maret Lesch, says hospitals are under pressure from trauma cases such as alcohol-related injuries and road accidents.

“Public hospitals in the Western Cape are currently under severe pressure due to a sharp increase in COVID-19 admissions and the increase in non-COVID-19 trauma cases, such as alcohol-related injuries and road accidents. Patients not requiring life-saving intervention will have a longer waiting time if visiting the hospital emergency centre and are thus advised to visit their local clinic. We urge residents to only go to the hospitals’ emergency centre for emergency and life threatening conditions.”

Western Cape healthcare system under pressure:

Radical intervention

On Tuesday, authorities said radical intervention was necessary to protect both the private and public healthcare systems amid an increase in infections of healthcare workers and hospitals fast running out of critical care beds.

Head of the Western Cape Health Department, Dr Keith Cloete, said more than 700 healthcare workers have been infected – while five of them have succumbed to the pandemic in the past two weeks.

Premier Alan Winde expressed concern over the growing numbers.

“We need to ensure that we wear our masks. We need to ensure that we wear our masks properly, not only under the chin as a chin warmer. We need to ensure that if we are outdoor, we keep our functions small. If we keep them outdoors we minimise risk. We all have to play our part now more than ever before.”

Western Cape Minister for Health, Nomafrench Mbombo, said the risk of further infections is still high.

“So, we must think about healthcare workers first. We will be asking for volunteers to assist so that’s why we are saying to you that, in as much as this is the issue of social distancing, physical distancing and protecting the economy is always been there, but we never have been competing in that space.”

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