Garden Route Covid-19 cases on the decline, but oxygen supply still a concern

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Covid-19 cases are declining in the Garden Route.
Covid-19 cases are declining in the Garden Route.
Pedro Pardo, AFP
  • The Garden Route has passed the peak of the second Covid-19 wave.
  • Despite this, 115 deaths have been reported in the district over the past seven days, compared to 92 the week before.
  • Health officials are also concerned about the amount of oxygen being used in Western Cape hospitals.

The Western Cape government says the Garden Route - which was one of the first districts to be put under lockdown restrictions as a hotspot - has passed the peak of the second wave of Covid-19 infections and is the only district showing an active decline in cases.

This was confirmed by the head of the Western Cape's health department, Dr Keith Cloete, who - along with Premier Alan Winde and Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo - held a briefing on Tuesday to update the media on the province's latest Covid-19 figures.

READ | SA targets herd immunity in Covid-19 vaccine plan

"The only district with a clear sign of active cases declining is the Garden Route; that is why we can with certainty say there is an established decline in the Garden Route. For everyone else, there is still an upward incline and the potential that we might be stabilising," said Cloete. 

"The Garden Route has now clearly passed the peak of the second wave. Cases and hospitalisations remain on a downward trend," he said.

In December, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the Garden Route had been identified as a hotspot which resulted in the restriction of gatherings and the closure of beaches. 

Cloete did warn, however, that there was still a high number of deaths despite the stabilisation in hospitalisations. In the past seven days, 115 deaths had been reported in the district, compared to 92 the week before.

As for the province as a whole, Cloete said that the metro's subdistricts had seen a decrease in reported cases. 

"This data is affected by decreased testing during the public holidays, as well as a change in testing criteria in the metro. Of note is the significant decrease in the western subdistrict, which shows a 35% drop in reported cases. The western area was one of the first to experience the second wave, and this might be an early sign that the area has reached its peak. We will have to watch this over the coming days," he said.

READ | Garden Route hospitality industry bleeds millions after beach ban

Numbers in the rural Western Cape were also stabilising. 

"Again, this is affected by the public holidays and will have to be watched to see if the pattern holds. The West Coast shows an increase in cases, but the rate of increase has slowed considerably. A week ago, the weekly increase in cases was 85%," said Cloete.


Of concern to Cloete was the province's "uncharted territory in terms of how much oxygen we have been using".

"The public and private sector are using approximately 76.4 tons of oxygen daily.

"While public sector hospital consumption is at 69% of the Western Cape production capacity, the additional 31% is used by the private sector, military hospital, etc. – the combined utilisation has moved above the maximal production capacity of the Afrox Western Cape plant," said Cloete

"Afrox has put contingency plans into place by bringing additional oxygen into the province daily, to augment the provincial supplies to provide a total capacity of 95 tons of oxygen per day," he said. 


In terms of hospitalisations, the province had 3 290 Covid-19 patients in public and private facilities, which Cloete said was a continually increasing. 

"The metro hospitals are running at an average occupancy rate of 99%; George drainage area hospitals at 65%; Paarl drainage area hospitals at 70%; and Worcester drainage area hospitals at 75%.

Occupancies in the Covid-19 general beds, however, reflect the pressure with metro hospitals at 96%; George drainage area hospitals at 62%; Paarl drainage area hospitals at 70%; and Worcester drainage area hospitals at 102%," he said.

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