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Nasal oxygen treatment for WC’s COVID-19 patients 'bears fruit'

Tygerberg Hospital started using high-flow nasal oxygen treatment on COVID-19 patients as an alternative to putting them on a ventilator early on.

FILE: Tygerberg Hospital. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Department of Health on Thursday said it was seeing some very promising results in a shift in its COVID-19 treatment strategy.

Tygerberg Hospital started using high-flow nasal oxygen treatment on COVID-19 patients as an alternative to putting them on a ventilator early on.

The provincial health department said it had shown great signs of helping to treat patients affected with the coronavirus.

Western Cape head of health doctor Keith Cloete said the first six COVID-19 patients who were admitted to Tygerberg Hospital for critical care were all admitted for early ventilation because, at the time, that was the recommended mode of treatment.

Cloete said they had all died.

At roughly the same time, global studies were emerging signalling better outcomes using high-flow nasal oxygen.

“So, the team at Tygerberg decided that the next seven patients that came in for critical care were placed on high-flow nasal oxygen. Six out of the seven recovered,” Cloete said.

Cloete said the whole orientation at Tygerberg Hospital's critical platform was shaped by that experience.

“Of the 114 high care patients admitted at Tygerberg Hospital, representing about 70% of high care patients, were placed on high-flow nasal oxygen after meeting certain criteria for the treatment. Seventy percent of these people recovered from the disease,” he said.

He said they had since taken a decision that high-flow nasal oxygen should be a critical part of their response to be able to provide an alternative to ventilated care.

Cloete also said they were now bringing the infrastructure online to be able to produce this form of treatment.

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