Covid-19 takes its toll on doctors, nurses & health workers in Western Cape

A health official wearing personal protective equipment tests a patient in the Western Cape. File photo.
A health official wearing personal protective equipment tests a patient in the Western Cape. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

There have been 1,713 health workers infected with Covid-19 across the public and private sector in the Western Cape since the start of the pandemic — and 17 deaths.

The dead include nurses, porters and support staff.

Infections have increased rapidly in the province, which is heading towards its anticipated peak in the spread of the virus, placing the health system under strain.

There were 973 patients being treated in public and private sector facilities on Friday, of whom 193 were admitted to ICU or high care. The province is rolling out temporary treatment facilities to treat the expected surge in patients.

The provincial health department said on Friday that out of the 1,713 health workers who had been infected, there had been 1,092 recoveries. There were 608 active cases as of Friday.

There were 83 doctors, 727 nurses and 481 other health workers infected in the public sector in the province.

“As part of protecting our health force we have provided 21,435 health workers with flu vaccinations,” the department said.

“We have also increased our personal protective equipment stock and these are provided to staff based on their risk profile. We are in constant engagement with labour unions in addressing staff safety concerns.

“Health facilities have introduced screening protocols for staff, individual risk assessment of staff, area risk assessments, identification of vulnerable staff and accommodating these vulnerable staff via flexible work arrangements.”

A breakdown of staff infections at some hospitals in the public sector indicated there were:

  • 169 at Groote Schuur Hospital with 98 recoveries
  • 293 at Tygerberg Hospital with 178 recoveries
  • 79 at Khayelitsha Hospital with 53 recoveries
  • 75 at New Somerset Hospital with 52 recoveries
  • 65 at Red Cross Children’s Hospital with 46 recoveries
  • 52 at Lentegeur Hospital with 31 recoveries
  • 44 at Karl Bremer Hospital with 24 recoveries
  • 39 across EMS with 15 recoveries
  • 41 at Victoria Hospital with 20 recoveries
  • 15 at Mitchells Plain Hospital with 13 recoveries

In the private sector, including NGOs and pharmacy staff, there had been 422 confirmed cases in the province, 329 recoveries and seven deaths. There are 86 active cases as of Friday.