Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says the province is prepared for the imminent peak in Covid-19 infections and must move down to level 3 lockdown before interventions become unsustainable.
The Western Cape currently has the highest number of cases in the country, recording 10,558 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, according to its live dashboard.
In a statement, Winde said the harsh impacts of the lockdown were being felt, posing a threat to public health. He presented this to the president’s Coordinating Council over the weekend, which is discussing the proposed alert levels for various parts of the country.
A determining factor in deciding lockdown levels should be based on a preparedness to care for all those who needed it, Winde said.
“This is not a zero-sum game. We can care for sick people and save lives now, and we can do it in a way that saves lives in the future too.
“We must remember that the scientific reason for the lockdown has been to allow us time to prepare for the peak of the pandemic. Covid-19 cannot be stopped, and many people will be infected over the coming weeks.
“The key measure that must be used to determine levels is whether we are prepared to provide care to every person who needs it at the time they need it.”
As part of the measures taken to curb infections, Winde said the province had adopted a “targeted hot spot” strategy and, using epidemiological data, could focus government efforts on specific geographical areas where the virus was spreading.
“This is not business-as-usual. I take this pandemic seriously and I don’t believe we can just return to normal.
“Major interventions are needed in these hot spots so that we can save lives. This strategy, however, allows for more of the economy to open while doing so, thereby preventing a severe humanitarian crisis from unfolding at the same time,” he added.
Winde said R725.5 million had been committed to fighting Covid-19 in the province, while healthcare facilities and capacity have been made available to receive patients, with talks of more resources being released.
Currently, 2,162 general care beds are available in the province as well as 2,365 beds in 19 quarantine facilities.
There were also 150 ICU beds in central and regional hospitals, Winde said.
It was estimated 200 admissions and 200 discharges would be managed per day during the peak, he added.
Community health workers have been deployed across the country and the province had the highest testing rate in the country per its population, according to Winde.
News24 reported on Tuesday that Gauteng had tested the most people at 127,030, but the Western Cape had tested the biggest number of people, 1 211, per 100,000.
Winde said the province have 432 ventilators with 100 more in reserve.
The province had also made preparations in terms of economic, social, transport and municipal support, he added.
This includes assisting businesses, essential workers, municipalities and the vulnerable with grants, information and preventative measures.
However, Winde said, these measures would only last so long.
“Our humanitarian support will become unsustainable over time on our current budgets as more and more people lose their jobs.
“We simply cannot ignore the impact of this on the health of people, especially vulnerable people, into the future.”
Not allowing the economy to open will threaten lives in the future and “this cannot be ignored by the government”, he added.
Winde also called on “every single person” to do their part in flattening the curve.
“When you keep yourself safe, through practicing good hygiene, keeping your distance, and wearing a mask properly, you help keep vulnerable people who are at higher risk safe too. Your actions can save lives, and we need every person to continue to be our partner in this Covid-19 response.”