Mediclinic in the Western Cape has decided to suspend elective surgeries in the province to ensure it has the capacity to keep up with the increase in COVID-19 hospitalisations.
The private hospital group has noted a dramatic increase in COVID-19 admissions, with the number of patients rising from less than 100 to more than 500, according to News24.
“Within the last month, Mediclinic 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, December 19.
The group urged the public to be cautious and adjust its behaviour accordingly to manage the risk of contracting COVID-19, as it has seen an increased number of patients flocking to its facilities during the second wave.
The number of patients seeking care from its hospitals in the province is clearly greater than it was during the first wave of the disease, according to Mediclinic. The group added that the demand for its intensive and high care units has reached its maximum capacity.
The group’s measures appear to be very well timed as there is a new variant of coronavirus in South Africa, that could potentially lead to more infections than the first wave.
On Friday, December 18, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the 501.V2 variant of COVID-19 is driving the second wave.
The 501.V2 variant of the virus has a higher viral load, which may mean that it has a higher efficiency of transmission.
“This may translate into a second wave that may have many more cases than the first wave,” said epidemiologist and chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim.
Mediclinic said that the increase in cases in the province has placed a heavy strain on the healthcare system and therefore, it is important to note that not all COVID-19 patients require ICU or ventilation.
The group says many admitted patients were successfully treated with supplemental oxygen and other supportive treatment modalities.
“In an effort to manage the growing demand, Mediclinic has already increased the available number of beds to assist COVID-19 patient, 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,” said the group.