Western Cape premier warns over high death rate for one particular group

The Western Cape has seen Covid-19 related deaths climb above 2,000 over the weekend, and accounts for 65% of all casualties countrywide.

Encouragingly, the province, which accounts for around 35% of all infections to date, has a strong recovery rate.

Premier Alan Winde noted that as of 5 July, the province had 16,293 active cases of Covid-19, with a total of 68,273 confirmed cases, and 49,928 recoveries.

“A total of 73% of people who have contracted Covid-19 in the province have recovered. Most people who contract this illness will only experience mild symptoms and will be able to recover at home without any complications.

“So far, almost 50,000 people in the Western Cape have been able to beat Covid-19 and recover,” he said.

Winde warned that those who are over 55 years old, and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are more likely to become seriously ill, require hospitalisation or die.

“Our experts have determined, using available data, that diabetic patients are the highest risk group and we have implemented a new strategy, which includes daily check-ins with Covid-19 patients with diabetes, as well as hospital admission at the CTICC for those diabetic patients which are the highest risk.”

“Our data shows that almost half of all Covid-19 positive people in the province with diabetes have required hospitalisation, and of those hospitalised, 45% have died.”

Hospital admissions in the province are up to 1,840 patients, of which 317 are in ICU or high care.

In his weekly message to the country, president Cyril Ramaphosa also cautioned over the rising outbreaks amid the elderly.

“Coronavirus can infect anyone, but older people are among those at highest risk of getting severely ill and possibly dying. Sadly, there have been a number of coronavirus outbreaks at old age homes and care centres, resulting in a number of deaths.”

In addition, the president said that data released by the Department of Health indicates that people with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, renal disease, asthma and chronic respiratory disease are more vulnerable to developing severe complications and dying from coronavirus.

According to new research published by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, a third of patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 had at least one co-morbidity, he said.

“This is a significant concern in a country such as ours that also has high prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis, the leading cause of natural deaths in South Africa last year.

“Additionally, more than 4.5 million South Africans have diabetes, a figure that has doubled since 2017. In the Western Cape alone, diabetes is a co-morbidity in over half of all Covid-19 deaths,” the president said.

Protect yourself and loved ones

Winde said that the province has worked hard to put measures in place to strengthen its healthcare systems, but fighting the pandemic is a joint effort.

“Stay home as much as possible and avoid gatherings of people. The province has not yet reached its peak, and we still need to stay home as much as possible, especially if you fall into one of the high risk groups or have an elderly or at risk person living with you,” he said.

“Wash or sanitise your hands regularly, and clean and sanitise workspaces, and surfaces that you regularly come into contact with. Always wear your mask when you are outside of your home.

“Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between you and any other person, even if you are wearing a mask,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said that people with underlying medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension should be extra cautious.

“They should observe social distancing, stay home if possible and stay away from crowded places. Like everyone else, they should practice good hygiene and continue to take their medication.

“One of the lessons from this pandemic is that we need a holistic approach to health. Anecdotal evidence suggests many of our people have used the lockdown period to make positive lifestyle changes like doing more exercise or quitting smoking,” he said.

Read: Gauteng government says it won’t push for a hard lockdown – here’s what it plans to do instead

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Western Cape premier warns over high death rate for one particular group