Projected Covid-19 deaths in Western Cape up to 9,300 by end of November

28 May 2020 - 15:52 By Tanya Farber
Cameraman Lungile Tom's wife Nandipha Nombutuma bids farewell at Maitland cemetery in Cape Town last week. The projected number of deaths in the Western Cape has been increased from below 5,500 to 9,300 by the end of November.
Cameraman Lungile Tom's wife Nandipha Nombutuma bids farewell at Maitland cemetery in Cape Town last week. The projected number of deaths in the Western Cape has been increased from below 5,500 to 9,300 by the end of November.
Image: Esa Alexander

The projected number of deaths in the Western Cape has increased from below 5,500 to 9,300 by the end of November, according to the South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium.

The data has changed since early modelling — based on how the virus has played out in other countries — to rely more on what is taking place in reality on the ground.

“We have been able to incorporate findings from hospitals,” said medical statistician Dr Sheetal Silal on behalf of the consortium, explaining the jump in figures in the model between early May and now.

This came to light at a provincial press briefing hosted by premier Alan Winde on Thursday.

Winde said also that despite ramping up capacity for Covid-19 hospital care, the province is going to have to expand it even further as early projections and the actual scenario playing out are different.

According to provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete, even with bed capacity at hospitals being augmented by a further 1,400 — including at non-hospital settings like the Cape Town International Convention Centre — there would still be a 1,600 bed shortfall and that this now has to be addressed.

Cloete said this comes “at exactly the time that the pressure on existing staff is starting to build up” and that positive cases among hospital staff were already having a negative impact.

He said supplying the bed capacity was one thing, but equally as important is “to find people to provide the services” that go with those beds.

“We might have to bring in staff members from other parts of the country to respond to this crisis,” he said, adding that the province was in discussion with the national health department about this.

Negotiations with the private sector were also under way, he said, “but rates and pricing have been a stumbling block.”

“There is no script written for this,” said Winde. “We have to be best prepared for the disaster that is Covid-19, as well as other humanitarian disasters,” like job losses and food shortages.

According to the provincial department of health’s public health specialist Prof Andrew Boulle, “At the level of hospitalisation, even if we just continue on the same exponential growth, we still have a challenging time ahead of us.”

Boulle said hospital admissions had been at 812 in a single week, but that by the end of this week that figure would stand at 1,400.

“If this projection continues, the system comes under major pressure and that was unanticipated,” he said.

Between the last week of March up to May 24, a total of 2,226 Western Cape residents had been admitted.

At first, the number in the private sector outstripped that of the public, but this has since changed. To date, 55% of ICU admissions in particular have been in the public sector and 45% in the private.


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