KwaZulu-Natal will have 163 256 vaccines for health personnel from various sectors in the province in its first phase of rollout, Premier Sihle Zikalala said on Tuesday.
“A total of 163 256 health personnel from various sectors in KwaZulu-Natal are eligible to receive vaccinations during the first phase, as announced by the president.
“These include 81 000 healthcare workers in the public sector and 49 000 in the private sector,” he told media at the Public Works offices in Durban.
Zikalala was giving an update on the province and how it would roll out the vaccine and generally deal with Covid-19.
He said the province established a Vaccine Co-ordinating Committee, which includes private hospitals, traditional leaders, eThekwini Municipality, Health Systems Trust, organised labour, NGOs (PEPFAR partners), the academic sector, National Health Laboratory Service, civil society and the South African Military Health Services, among others.
“Across the province, all our districts have finalised vaccination distribution plans.”
He said that the Provincial Command Council would “support, monitor and perform oversight over the vaccine rollout process”.
“All District Command Councils led by MECs and mayors will spend time in districts for the duration of the rollout and ensure daily accountability and hands-on support.”
Zikalala said the vaccine would arrive in KZN “around 14 February 2021”.
“Staff in direct contact with patients will be prioritised. To date, the province has identified 91 vaccination sites, which will include all the public hospitals and Community Health Centres (CHCs). These hospitals and CHCs will be responsible for the clinics, and other sites that are part of the value chain in their catchment areas.”
Zikalala said the province will follow the phased approach to vaccination, divided into the first and second phase categories.
They include staff in direct contact with patients (healthcare workers and support staff) and staff not in direct contact with patients (administrative and other staff).
Still in a second wave
Zikalala said the number of hospital admissions had declined, along with a decrease in the number of new cases in both public and private sector.
“This is also in line with the incidence and positivity rate. The number of admissions started increasing steadily from 1 December, and then declined from week 3 (17–23 January 2021) of January 2021. The number of ICU patients has remained constant for the month of January 2021.”
He said the province currently had 3 601 patients admitted in both private (2 429 or 67%) and public (1 172 or 33%) hospitals as at 31 January.
Of those admitted, 483 patients (13%) required intensive care services. Among those who required intensive care, 44% or 211 were being ventilated.
Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, however, cautioned that the second wave had not concluded.
“We are not sure if we are beyond the second wave. We are still waiting for scientists to say if we are expecting a third wave. Have not seen anyone talking about a third wave besides Japan. Should it happen, we will be able to deal with it.
“We are not sure if we peaked or are in a dip, so numbers might still go up. We don’t want to pre-empt the phases we are at.”
Zikalala said deaths were also a major concern.
“The actual number of deaths, which occurred between 17 and 23 January was 796, and 265 for between 24 and 30 January. The second wave has been more severe than the first wave in terms of the deaths in the province.”
He said the average number of deaths received daily over the past two weeks was 75 deaths per day.
“The analysis was done using [the] date the person died, not the date of reporting.”
He said that within the province, uMgungundlovu District had the highest death rate (124 deaths/100 000 population) followed by eThekwini District (85 deaths/100 000 population), Amajuba District (81 deaths/100 000 population) and King Cetshwayo District (81 deaths/100 000 population).
According to Zikalala, the the first beneficiaries of the vaccine in the province include:
- Public sector health care staff – 67,644
- Medical doctors, dentists, pharmacists, Emergency Medical Services – 9,292
- Interns: – 390
- Nurses – 34,279;
- Non-OSD staff: 20,417
- Allied health professional – 2,639
- Engineers/artisans – 366
- Staff providing social services – 256
- Privately contracted staff working in public sector – 14,625
- Traditional healers – 5,939
- Military health care staff – 350
- NGO sector staff – 6,699
- Environmental Health Practitioners – 360