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WC predicts shortfall of hospital beds at peak of COVID-19 pandemic

At the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, the provincial health department predicts 80,000 people will have the virus but the vast majority of those cases will be able to stay home and recover.

FILE: Western Cape Premier Alan Winde. Picture: Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape residents got a more detailed view of what to expect in the coming months as the Western Cape Premier and his head of Health briefed on plans to deal with the peak of the pandemic.

They've been planning various scenarios based on the results of data modeling.

At the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, the provincial health department predicts 80,000 people will have the virus but the vast majority of those cases will be able to stay home and recover.

But it's the 10% of cases at the peak that will need hospitalisation that will pose a serious challenge to the healthcare system.

Premier Alan Winde said that in that scenario, there could be a shortfall of 1,000 beds in the acute space and 750 beds in critical care facilities.

They have a plan to address the lack of acute care beds but ICU space will fall short.

"But the big risk lies in the 750 beds that are needed at the peak time in the critical care space and we can put another 150 and we negotiating with the private sector but at the end of the day, the message is we are going to be short of beds in that space."

Winde said that 17 "triage centres" were being built in the province. Seven had been completed and an additional 10 would be completed by the first week in May.

Another top priority he said was making sure the province has PPE for health workers.

He said there was currently R44 million worth of PPE stock on hand and R185 million on backorder.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.