Municipal officials batten down the hatches as Covid-19 stalks George

06 July 2021 - 20:32
By paul ash AND Paul Ash
George Hospital is now caring for 44 Covid-19 patients
Image: Western Cape government George Hospital is now caring for 44 Covid-19 patients

Municipal officials in the Western Cape town of George are hunkering down as the town reels under a third wave of Covid-19 infections.

Some 36 municipal employees are infected, while a further 30 were isolating at home due to possible exposure, the municipality said. Two officials died in the past week, bringing to nine the number of employees the municipality has lost to the pandemic.

The two most recent deaths were Melvin Jansen, the acting supervisor of the cemeteries department, and Freddy Booysen, a civil engineer and 35-year veteran of the municipality who worked in the sewer network department.

“It hits home every time we lose somebody,” municipal media liaison officer Chantel Edwards-Klose told TimesLIVE.

While the municipality has about 1,500 employees, its finance directorate and parks and recreation departments had been particularly hard hit in the recent surge. This could result in slower refuse collection and limited availability of street cleaning crews, the municipality said.

The cashier halls would be open for limited hours.

“We are encouraging people not to come into our offices but to rather use online services,” Edwards-Klose said. “This is to keep both our employees and the public safe.”

The Garden Route district has reported 2,311 new cases of Covid-19 in the past week, a  95% increase over the previous week, according to the provincial health department. All subdistricts reported large percentage increases and district hospitals were seeing increased admissions, especially in Mossel Bay.

George Hospital has 44 Covid-19 patients in its wards of whom 15 are in high care. 

The district has had 39,892 Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, of whom 1,454 people had died. There are 3,590 active cases in the district, with the most in George (1,433) and Mossel Bay (1,188).