KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier, Sihle Zikalala says the province is planning to get the ball running in working on Covid-19 vaccination sites in all districts to ensure they are in a good state of readiness for when it arrives.
Speaking during a media briefing on Sunday, Zikalala said the province would devise a plan that would ensure vaccines were rolled out faster when they were available.
He said the province’s starting point was to embark on awareness campaigns and educating people, as well as debunking the myths surrounding the vaccines.
The premier said the Provincial Command Council will present the full plan around the roll out in the coming days.
KZN has recorded 29 147 new infections in the past seven days, with increases seen in Ethekwini, Umgungundlovu, Uthukela, Amajuba, Zululand, Umkhanyakude and Umzinyathi districts.
Zikalala said while there were days when the numbers were slightly decreasing, the province was not treating it as a trend as yet because the new variant had its own set of surprises and lessons.
The province tops the rank in the country with the highest number of active cases. According to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s Saturday evening’s statistics, KZN had 62 478 active cases.
The country has recorded 1 325 659 confirmed cases, 276 794 being from KZN, making it the second highest after Gauteng.
KZN is the fourth highest with fatalities due to the virus. As of 16 January, 40 related deaths were recorded, bringing the total to 6 318.
“This is a case fatality rate of 2.3% since the beginning of the pandemic. Quite notably, eThekwini municipality has contributed 44% of the reported deaths (2 769). The median age for the deaths was 62 years (IQR 53-75). More than half of the deceased were female (54%). May these departed souls rest in everlasting peace,” he said.
At least 77% of the people who succumbed to the virus from the province had comorbidities, with the most commonly recorded one among the deceased being hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiac diseases and RVD-infection (HIV/AIDS)
Zikalala said: “The number of deaths with no recorded comorbidities increase to 28%. Worryingly, these statistics are telling us that a whole 33% of the deceased patients had no underlying illnesses.”
The premier said the province was pleased to announce that 209 630 people had recovered from the virus, placing the province’s recovery rate at 76%.
Zikalala said a total of 11 419 healthcare workers from the provinces had been infected with the virus, with 107 succumbing to it.
As of 15 January 2021, the province had 4 975 patients admitted in hospitals. At least 2 869, of these were in private hospitals, and 2 106 in public facilities.
“It is important that we indicate that our hospitals are not yet full, but the numbers are increasing and the number of people succumbing to Covid-19 has also increased. We have increased our bed capacity and oxygen supply.
“As at 15 January 2021, out of the total 2 905 available Covid-19 isolation beds, 2 082 or 72% were occupied. And from a total of 115 ICU beds allocated in public sector, 53% were occupied.”
The province said it believed adjusted Level 3 lockdown was reducing transmission and trauma units in hospitals were now able to focus more on Covid-19 patients.
Re-infection is possible
Zikalala discouraged people from claiming they have “beaten” the virus when recovered, reminding that re-infections were possible.
The premier said: “Such statements are dangerous and perhaps even insensitive at a time when so many people are in mourning, having lost their loved ones. They are dangerous in a sense that they create a false sense of security that implies that when people recover from Covid-19, they will not contract the virus again. We believe this is reckless because there is a growing body of scientific evidence and living examples that prove that it is possible to get re-infected,” he said.