Covid-19: Mediclinic suspends elective surgeries in Western Cape after 'dramatic' increase in hospital admissions

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  • Mediclinic says it has noted an increase in admitted Covid-19 patients - from less than 100 to more than 500.
  • The healthcare services group has called on the public to manage their behaviour and prevent the spread of the virus. 
  • The group says there has been a dramatic increase in numbers in the Western Cape. 

In an effort to manage the growing demand of hospital admissions, as Covid-19 cases increase, healthcare services group Mediclinic has, among other measures, suspended all elective (or non-emergency) surgeries within the Western Cape region, in order to create capacity.

On Saturday, the group cautioned the public to adjust its behaviour and manage the risk of contracting Covid-19 as it saw an increased number of patients flocking to its hospitals amid the second wave.

Mediclinic said the second wave has resulted in a strong demand for care in the Southern and Western Cape, and other areas. 

The group said it was now clear that the number of patients seeking care at its hospitals in the Western Cape was exceeding the first wave period, adding that the demand for its intensive care units and high care units had reached capacity. 

"Within the last month, Mediclinic has noted an increase from less than 100 admitted Covid-19 patients to more than 500 patients within its facilities across the Western Cape, including the Garden Route," it said in a statement on Saturday.

READ | A 22:00 curfew for SA's Covid-19 hotspots and new booze restrictions, NCCC recommends

The group's measures come in the wake of a new coronavirus variant, which could mean more people are being infected than the initial surge. 

News24 reported on Friday that the new variant, called 501.V2, which has between 10 and 20 new mutations, was found by genomics scientists from across the country, who have been analysing genetic samples of the virus since the start of the pandemic. 

Mediclinic said the dramatic increase in numbers in the Western Cape placed a heavy strain on available healthcare resources, including staff, equipment and available beds to provide intensive treatment for seriously ill patients.

"In an effort to manage the growing demand, Mediclinic has already increased the available number of beds to assist Covid-19 patients, we have reallocated key resources to hotspots, and we have provided additional training to upskill nursing staff from other units to assist in areas, such as ICU and high care," it said. 

The group said it was important, however, to note that not all Covid-19 patients required ICU or ventilation, and that many admitted patients were treated successfully with supplemental oxygen and other supportive treatment modalities.

"While this situation remains fluid and is evaluated on a frequent basis, we would emphasise the need for the public to manage their own health and adjust their behaviour to manage their risk and reduce their risk of infection by the coronavirus." 

As of Friday, the cumulative number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa stood at 901 538, with 8 725 new cases. The number of deaths was at 24 285.

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