The Western Cape Health Department has had extra medical oxygen brought into the province to assist healthcare facilities as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

Speaking to News24, Western Cape Health Department Head Dr Keith Cloete explained that the extra oxygen was not brought in because the province had run out of medical oxygen as was rumoured. Instead, it has been done as a preventative measure.

“We have not run out of medical oxygen,” he told News24. “Afrox has brought in additional oxygen capacity from other provinces to prevent us from running out of oxygen. We have sufficient oxygen for private and public sector hospitals, and are expanding our beds to accommodate more cases.”

According the the Health Department’s spokesperson Mark van der Heever, the demand for oxygen has grown astronomically amid the second wave.

“While we are still managing, the demand for oxygen during this second wave of the pandemic is up three times the volume than the pre-Covid period. The entire oxygen system is currently under strict monitoring due to the number of patients requiring oxygen,” he said.

According to the latest provincial update from Monday [January 4], the Western Cape has 41 538 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 218 836 confirmed cases and 169 962 recoveries.

Currently, 3290 people are admitted to hospital with COVID-19 of which 356 are in ICU or high care.

On Monday, 79 new health care workers started work in various facilities across the metro and the provincial government continues to source additional health care workers to bolster our frontline. The 79 are made up of 17 professional nurses, 19 staff nurses, 41 nursing assistants and two operational managers.

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