Eastern Cape braces for toughest month in August, cases expected to double in six weeks

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
  • The education department will spend R325 million to replace 2 278 teachers who have underlying conditions.
  • The pandemic has claimed the lives of 140 public servants in the province, and 4 592 have tested positive.
  • The health and education departments are the worst affected, with 3 244 and 1 143 infections respectively.

Premier Oscar Mabuyane has warned the Eastern Cape will be bracing for their toughest month in August in the fight against Covid-19 as cases of infections are expected to double. 

Mabuyane made the announcement during a coronavirus command council briefing in Bhisho on Tuesday.

"Our forecast is that August is the eye of the Covid-19 storm. All of us must buckle up because we are about to have tough times of our lifetime.

"We expect a surge in infections to almost double over the next six weeks. 

"This will put our already strained health systems under more pressure, particularly on the availability of critical care beds.

"We expect to be out of the eye of the storm in September, with a decline in numbers of new cases and lower rates of new infections. 

"October is a month where we expect to see stabilisation in daily increases and this will offer some relief to our pressured health systems."

R325 million to replace vulnerable teachers

Covid-19 is also forcing the Eastern Cape government to hire 2 278 temporary teachers at a cost of R325 million, in order to replace high-risk teachers who have underlying health complications that make them vulnerable.

Mabuyane also announced the pandemic has claimed the lives of 140 public servants in the province, with 4 592 having tested positive.

He said the health and education departments are the worst affected. The health department accounted for 3 244 infections and 54 deaths, while the education department has 1 143 infections and 69 deaths.

Mabuyane further announced an allocation of R16 million for electronic learning, which prioritises Grade 6 to 11 learners and teachers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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In preparation for the storm, Mabuyane announced the provincial government has invested an additional amount of R2.5 billion to the provincial health department from the province's adjustment budget.

He said, from this budget, R1.6 billion will be spent on the following:

  • R840 million on field hospitals, infrastructure and operating costs, which include maintenance of quarantined and isolation sites done by the public works department;
  • R481 million for PPE and consumables;
  • R175 million for 5 400 community health workers;
  • R173 million for ventilators for 240 ICU beds;
  • R17 million for 171 enrolled nurses and nursing assistants for 12 months, in addition to the 822 which was allocated in the emergency funding; and
  • R12 million for Cuban doctors and nurses.

"We have received approximately R300 000 worth of additional equipment donated to the Rev Doc Nxiweni field hospital, a functioning mobile X-Ray unit in place, and an eight-member support team working with the field hospital to address infection controls also in place at the field hospital," said Mabuyane.

He said, through the project management unit headed by Dr Sibongile Zungu, the government identified five risk factors that might undermine work of the government. He said these were:

  • Infection and death of healthcare workers
  • Non-availability of beds
  • Non-availability of oxygen
  • Ineffective leadership at level of health institutions and
  • Inadequate psycho-social support

About the Zungu-led team, Mabuyane said: "The team has already developed a comprehensive overall plan to operationalise Covid-19 Provincial, District and Site-specific management and implementation structures.

"The plan is anchored on the principles of promoting data-driven decision-making and adhering to nine strategic objectives outlined by WHO (World Health Organisation) for Covid-19 response."

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