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WC in ‘uncharted territory’ as oxygen use at private, public hospitals increases

Head of health Dr Keith Cloete said combined oxygen utilisation for both public and private hospitals was 76 tons a day.

A hospital worker and patient with COVID-19 in in the resuscitation room of the COVID-19 ward at Khayelitsha Hospital, about 35km from the centre of Cape Town, on 29 December 2020. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - With the Western Cape in the predicted peak of the second coronavirus wave, health officials are increasing beds at hospitals, staff and oxygen in the province.

The province has seen a decrease in reported cases, however, the department on Wednesday said this must be viewed with caution as this data would be be affected by the holidays and changes to testing criteria.

There are now over 41,000 active cases with a total of 7,554 COVID related deaths.

ALSO READ: Western Cape has officially entered COVID peak - Cloete

The major increase in hospitalisations has resulted in significantly higher oxygen usage in the Western Cape than was experienced in the first wave.

Head of health Dr Keith Cloete said combined oxygen utilisation for both public and private hospitals was 76 tons a day.

He said the province was in unchartered territory in relation to oxygen use.

“Over the past year, we were using an average of 12 tons a day and in July, we peaked at 27 tons a day. We’re currently using 48 tons a day [for public hospitals only] and we’re going in uncharted territory for oxygen use in this province.”

ALSO READ: WC health workers continue to contract COVID-19 while army prepares to step in

He said Afrox had plans in place to ensure that supply was increased to 95 tons per day.

The department now has five bulk oxygen tankers and daily deliveries will be made from the Eastern Cape.

Cloete said hospitals, excluding field hospitals, were running at an average occupancy of 99% and Garden route hospitalisations were declining.

Over 600 beds as well as health staff are being added to the system.

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