The Western Cape needs about 30 000 beds as the number of Coronavirus infections in the province is expected to continue to surge.
Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said on Friday various departments have been working together to provide additional beds to place people in quarantine.
“We need more beds… we need to push up to close to 30 000 beds,” he said, explaining that the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus had led to the shortfall in beds.
The issue of quarantine and isolation needed a strong focus to flatten the curve. “This will ensure that we can cut and break the cycle of infection.”
Mkhize was speaking in the Western Cape where he accompanied President Cyril Ramaphosa in assessing the province’s state of readiness in tackling COVID-19.
The province remains the epicentre with more than half of the COVID-19 infections recorded in the country.
Government is also working with the private sector to procure more beds.
Vulnerable groups, such as those living with comorbidities, remain a concern.
Additional test kits
Meanwhile, Mkhize said the issue of test kits is being addressed. Additional test kits from Russia were last night released from customs.
“As far as I’m concerned, this issue has to be seen as a transitory problem’ Although we have tested a number of people, the number needs to increase and target a bit more to make sure we don’t comprise case management.”
He believed the testing backlog would soon be a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, Mkhize acknowledged that the demand for the number of nurses would also increase and the department was working on filling the posts.
“Nurses and doctors should be recruited and where there’s a limit, we also have an overlap coming from the private sector.”
Mkhize assured the province that government is working tirelessly on the issue of containment.
Premier Alan Winde thanked the frontline workers, nurses and police officers alike who are putting in more hours than they have done before.
He acknowledged the resources that President Ramaphosa has promised to put towards staffing and beds.
As the epicentre, the Western Cape needs about R3 billion for their COVID-19 response and President Ramaphosa said the funding will be made available. The resources will be put towards increasing beds and staff, focusing on hotspots and communication strategies.
“It’s to make sure that frontline is resourced in this war and we got to help each other and do this together.”
Winde said the province was responding to all the issues of extra beds, contact tracing and behavioural change.
“We need to plead to every single person in this province to bring that behavioural change into their lives and make sure they are washing their hands regularly, hand sanitising and especially wearing their masks and social distancing.”
Hospital of Hope
President Ramaphosa, who officially opened the Hospital of Hope, an 850-bed COVID-19 facility which has been established at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, said he was pleased to get a firsthand opportunity to see the Western Cape’s initiatives in flattening the curve.
“Our coming here was out of great concern because the rate of infections in the Western Cape has way outrun the infection rate in the country. It represents about 66% of the infections in the whole country and some 77% of the deaths,” he said.
“And that has to be brought down.”
He said he was confident that the plans in place will bring the rate of infection down, especially in hotspot areas.
There were already good signs and he hoped to see more progress made.
The installations of the field hospitals will also put the province in a good standing.
“We’re going to pull out all stops to ensure we have more beds than we have now and have planned to make sure we’re ahead,” he said.