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WC hospitals already under severe pressure ahead of COVID peak

The peak is still two to three weeks away but already hospitals are overloaded, running at over 100% capacity on average.

FILE: Western Cape Premier Alan Winde (right) and provincial head of Health Dr Keith Cloete (centre) help officials wheel out a hospital bed as the CTICC's Hospital of Hope is officially decommissioned on 21 August 2020. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - As the second wave peak looms in parts of the country, the Western Cape Health Department is racing against the clock to add extra beds to the province's hospital capacity.

The coronavirus peak is still two to three weeks away but already hospitals are overloaded, running at over 100% capacity on average.

There are currently more than 2,600 COVID patients in acute hospital beds over 1,500 in the public sector and more than 1,100 in the private sector.

On top of this, alcohol-related trauma is gumming up the works.

The province’s own models put the peak of the second wave of infections in the first week of January and it is going to be way higher than the first one.

Already COVID hospital admissions are exceeding those recorded in the first wave.

Cape Town hospitals are running at an average occupancy rate of 105%. Hospitals such as Mitchells Plain is running at 115%.

Provincial Head of Health Dr Keith Cloete said private hospitals were also under pressure and it had reached the point where they were redirecting patients to the public sector.

“The platform in Cape Town is already under pressure, we’re expected to come under even more pressure. That’s why we need a radical intervention of change in something that can save the healthcare platform.”

Cloete said they were now feverishly working on releasing additional capacity over the next two weeks.

“We need to create additional capacity in the public and private sectors to be able to cope. The big challenge of all of this is the trauma load competing for space with COVID.”

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