"Premier Winde urges residents to be vigilant amid acceleration of COVID-19 infections"
During my weekly digital press conference today, I highlighted that COVID-19 infections are accelerating in the Western Cape and that we urgently need to adhere to the lifesaving behaviours that we have learnt over the past year to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to save lives.
Our data shows us the following:
We have over 1000 confirmed COVID-19 admissions across our public and private hospitals.
The 'R' or reproductive number stands at approximately 1.4 which means that the number of infections is accelerating rapidly.
We are continuing to see a 20% week-on-week increase in new cases, even off high-base numbers.
The proportion of COVID-19 tests which are positive has also increased to an average of 16.2% now and was 20.6% on Monday, 14 June.
We are now also starting to see an increase in COVID-19 related deaths, up to 13 people per day, on average.
It is very important that we all protect ourselves and our loved ones during this period of great risk. You can do this by:
Wearing a clean cloth mask
Avoiding non-essential gatherings.
Avoiding the 3Cs of crowded places, confined spaces and close contact.
Ensuring good ventilation when meeting, and keeping any essential gatherings small, short and outside.
Washing your hands regularly with soap and water, or by sanitizing.
Staying home when sick and organizing a test if you have symptoms.
Protecting those at highest risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death.
"We are not wasting a moment of time, and are ready to scale-up again when more vaccines arrive"
We are currently experiencing a shortage of vaccines, which is affecting our vaccine rollout plan. This means we have not been able to reach our target of 120 000 vaccinations a week by now.
This follows the announcement by the US Food and Drug Association that 60 million doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) would be discarded, and the subsequent announcement by SAHPRA that 2 million of the doses from the Aspen Plant in Gqeberha would also be discarded.
Despite this delay, we have not wasted a moment of time in preparing our systems for a mass roll-out, and all systems are being readied for a rapid scale-up of vaccinations in the Western Cape, including the readying of mass vaccination sites, for when more supplies arrive. We are ready to go.
"The Western Cape to receive an estimated 140 000 Pfizer doses on 24 June 2021"
I am pleased to note that we will receive a large tranche of Pfizer doses on 24 June, estimated at 140 000 doses. This will enable us to ramp up our vaccination programme by the end of June. We are hoping the arrival of more J&J vaccines will also help this scale-up.
To date, we have received a total of 245 700 vaccines for Phase 2, of which, we have administered a total of 213 356 vaccines, which is 86.8% of vaccines administered.
We have also exceeded our weekly targets each week since the start of phase 2:
In week 1, we vaccinated 10 327 people against a target of 10 000;
In week 2, we vaccinated 35 906 people against a target of 30 000;
In week 3, we vaccinated 66 885 people against a target 60 000; and
In week 4, we vaccinated 72 304 people against a target of 70 000.
We can also reach a minimum of 120 000 vaccinations a week or 24 000 a day and can scale up further to 150 000 a week or 30 000 vaccines a day, should we receive additional vaccines.
"We are ready to scale up our vaccine sites and currently have 205 operational sites"
The Western Cape Government is ready to scale up its vaccine sites, subject to our vaccine supply. To prevent a stop/start approach to our vaccine rollout, we have aligned our vaccine rollout to the number of vaccines that the province receives.
We currently have 205 active vaccine sites in the Western Cape which include:
65 active public sites in the Metro
107 active public sector sites in the Rural Districts
33 active private sector sites
The rollout of our mass vaccination sites remains dependent on the number of vaccines received. However, we are on track to roll out mass vaccination sites, including:
The Momentum mass vaccination site at the Parc Du Cap premises in the Bellville area opened on 4 June 2021 which will serve as a private-sector site. The Provincial Department of Health will partner with this site to cover some uninsured clients.
A mass vaccination site at the CTICC will be established in partnership with the City of Cape Town and the private sector. We plan to launch this site in the first week of July.
A mass vaccination site in the Cape Flats is also being planned, to ensure greater access for all residents in the Metro.
"We are seeing fewer infections among healthcare workers compared to the same period in the second wave"
I am pleased to see that vaccines are protecting our healthcare workers from severe COVID-19 illness and death, and enabling our health system to remain strong.
When we last entered a wave in November 2020, the number of infections among healthcare workers infected stood at 654. However, we are now only seeing 81 active cases during the start of the third wave.
We have vaccinated close to two-thirds of all healthcare workers in the Western Cape, which is the main explanation for these low numbers. This is good news for our province and will make a fundamental difference from the first and second waves.
"WC has a 5-point response plan in place to respond to the pandemic"
The Western Cape Government has learnt from the second wave of infections, and has advanced surveillance systems in place to ensure that we can rapidly scale up our beds, oxygen supply and staff should there be a rapid acceleration in COVID-19 admissions.
Our 5-point containment and mitigation plan will ensure that we prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed. It will also ensure that we limit the need to de-escalate frontline healthcare services; and not interrupt the rollout of the vaccine programme.
The 5-point plan focusses on:
Changing community behaviours to prevent infection;
Surveillance and outbreak response;
Scaling-up health platform Covid-19 capacity;
Maintaining comprehensive services; and
Safeguarding and protecting the wellbeing of healthcare workers.
"It's time to open up registrations to residents aged 50 to 59"
During the President's Coordinating Council meeting this week, I argued that registrations should open for the next phase, namely, for residents aged 50 to 59.
There is no reason why this shouldn't happen already, while vaccinations of those over 60 continue.
I am worried we are leaving registration to the last minute, and we should rather be getting as many people registered now so that we can have a seamless change to the next phase - without any delays.
I will continue to make these arguments in my engagement with the national government because we must ensure we are ready for the next phase as soon as possible.
In the meantime, I urge all residents over the age of 60 to please register for their vaccine. We have now exceeded 50% of all eligible residents in this age group, but we need to get close to 70% if we are to get herd immunity in the future.
visit https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za/#/ or www.westerncape.gov.za
dial *134*832# and follow the prompts (FREE on all South African Networks)
WhatsApp the word REGISTER to 0600 123456.