Western Cape Premier Alan Winde held a press briefing to provide an update on the Western Cape government’s plans for the lockdown and COVID-19 outbreak.
The Premier confirmed that as of 9am this morning, the Western Cape had 181 positive COVID-19 cases. Only three of those are in hospital, with one in critical condition due to a co-morbidity.
Winde confirmed that the government has implemented ten work streams that are dealigned with specific issues such as healthcare and education.
He assured citizens that while the next 21 days will be difficult, the government is working on solutions.
The rules laid down by the national government were reiterated by Winde. He explained that essential workers will be issued with a document saying they are allowed to go to work, either by the government in the public sector or their CEO in the private sector.
This document in conjunction with an ID must be shown to a police officer when questioned about one’s movements. If these are not presented, workers can be sent home.
He also urged citizens to not use the opportunity to go to the shops as a family outing. Rather, only the healthiest and least at-risk member of the household should get what is needed.
Winde was supported by Dr Engelbrecht, who assured that all of the provinces hospitals have prepared for the arrival of COVID-19 cases.
She explained that according to current projections, only 10% of positive cases are expected to be critical. This means the other 90% can be dealt with at home.
Hospitals have been decongested and cleared of elective surgeries and those whose treatments can wait. Private hospitals have also been contacted to help when needed.
It was confirmed that critical care beds and ventilators are a scarce resource.
The work stream in charge of healthcare is also identifying locations for possible field hospitals, should they become necessary. Engelbrecht also confirmed that all medical staff have been prepped to respond to the crisis, with the necessary protective gear. She also mentioned the possibility of calling on retired medical staff should it become necessary.
Locations are also being identified for those who need access to safe quarantine areas, safe spaces for the homeless and moving the refugees still in the Methodist Church in town.
Deliveries of chronic medication for longstanding medical conditions are being conducted across the province. This will ensure people continue to receive their medication, even if they cannot go and fetch it themselves.
Dr Engelbrecht also reiterated who needs to wear protective gear. “If you are healthy, no one needs to wear a mask. Only wear a mask if you are ill yourself, or are working with someone who is ill. Masks are a limited resource globally and we need to get for health workers,” she said.
“Obviously the economy is going to be hard hit,” said Winde. He confirmed that they are in discussions on how to deal with the economic fallout that will impact citizens.
Winde said that the education work streams are looking at how education can continue after the lockdown, especially if children cannot return to school.
The government has been in discussion with cellphone companies which have already been rolling out e-education.
The Premier also encouraged families to create regimented plans while in lockdown to help structure the time, including some educational activities like reading.
We are all in this together
Winde continued that citizens of the Western Cape all need to contribute and stay home to keep each other safe.
He admonished those who have been panic buying and stockpiling, explaining that others need food too and it is not fair.
He asked anyone who suspected they may be ill to isolate themselves and contact coronavirus hotline to be advised by someone on their next steps.
“We are all going to be sitting at home, we are all going to testing ourselves but we all need to know we are doing this because it is the right decision,” said Winde.