Eastern Cape — with only 66 ICU/HC beds — races to control COVID-19 superclusters

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The Eastern Cape is fighting to gain control over fast-growing coronavirus outbreaks as the province’s premier admits that they have only 66 ICU and high care beds, reports Daily Maverick. Most of their field hospitals and isolation facilities are still in the planning phase. As the alarm is raised over the ‘technical insolvency’ of the health department, 60 health workers have tested positive for the virus. Five police stations have been temporarily closed after several police officers tested positive.

In a presentation to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Eastern Cape Premiuer Oscar Mabuyane has admitted that the province has only 66 ICU and high care beds available – field hospitals and more than half of their isolation facilities are still in the planning phase. This comes as the province’s economy is expected to contract by a predicted 5.5% over the next year.

Mabuyane said while the province started off with two clusters of infections in its two major metros, there now appear to be two more developing in the rural Chris Hani and OR Tambo districts. “Both emerging clusters are located in areas of high COVID-19 vulnerability index ratings, according to the CSIR,” Mabuyane said. “There is a substantial possibility that these clusters could join to form a ‘supercluster’ due to a set of existing vulnerability characteristics. Emerging clusters require focused data-driven interventions, to contain the pandemic whilst simultaneously increasing technical capacity and access to such capacity by vulnerable patients to prevent the formation of a supercluster,” Mabuyane said.

He said the province was switching its focus to mass education and has included all political parties currently serving in the legislature, religious community organisations and traditional leadership to assist the government in fighting the outbreak. Mabuyane said teachers aligned to the South African Democratic Teachers Union have indicated that they will go out and teach basic preventative strategies such as hand-washing, social distancing and wearing masks in communities.

Daily Maverick reports that Mabuyane’s office said the two big metros in the province currently have an incident rate of 558 per million for Buffalo City around East London and 469 per million for Nelson Mandela Bay. The Chris Hani District, that includes Cradock and Queenstown and many other small rural towns, has an incidence rate of 243 per million.

Full Daily Maverick report

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