Premier Alan Winde on adjusted Coronavirus COVID-19 Alert level regulations

Statement by Premier Alan Winde in response to Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa – New restrictions a last resort to save lives, but need to be reviewed after 14 days
The Western Cape Government welcomes the temporary introduction of additional restrictions on alcohol consumption and the gathering of people in the province.

We however remain opposed to the closure of outdoor spaces such as beaches and parks. This goes against scientific advice that well-ventilated and outdoor spaces are safer.

All restrictions introduced should be reconsidered after 14 days and be removed in places where they are no longer required. They should not be in place for a day longer than they are needed to save our healthcare system and they need to be analysed against their results.

The Western Cape Government’s support for additional restrictions was a last resort, as our public and private health system faces extreme pressure, experiencing rapidly growing hospitalisations and driven by a new, more transmissible Covid-19 variant.

Our healthcare workers are exhausted and are battling to provide care to every person who needs it, when they need it. The result is that if we don’t intervene now, we will not be able to provide life-saving care to every person who needs it. This is not an option for me.

Providing such care has been a foundational pillar of our response, and when it is no longer possible, something has to be done. A person’s life is the most important thing in the world, and we cannot let someone die without access to healthcare.

The Western Cape Government has done everything it can to add capacity to the system so it can cope, but it is still under extreme pressure because of the rapidly growing number of cases caused by the new variant.

We have added the following additional beds to the system:

• 336 beds at the Hospital of Hope (Brackengate)

• 60 beds at the Freesia Ward in Mitchell’s Plan

• 30 beds at Ward 99 in Mitchell’s Plain

• 187 beds at the Aquarius Ward in Mitchell’s Plain

• 59 beds at the Sonstraal Hospital in Drakenstein

• 72 beds in Vredendal, Hermanus and George

In addition, we are also preparing to bring online an additional 136 beds in the metro, at existing facilities. This does depend on staffing capacity.

We have also erected tents at Khayelistha and Wesfleur Hospitals were admissions and discharges will be managed.

Additional tents are being erected at the Hospital Hope, Mitchell’s Plan, Helderberg, Eerste River and Karl Bremmer.

To put it simply, the Western Cape will by the end of this week have added 744 additional beds into the system. We are also prepared to scale this up to 880 beds, which will be more than the CTICC field hospital capacity (and which was only half full during the first wave).

Despite this additional capacity, our healthcare system, and especially our critical care wards, remain under extreme pressure.

This is because a hospital bed is useless unless you have healthcare workers to staff it, and healthcare workers are already stretched thin and exhausted after this unprecedented year. That is why we all need to do everything to protect our frontline right now.

To our business community, you have my word that our government will continue to fight for the TERS/UIF benefit to be rolled out to all affected sectors as a matter of priority, and I will continue to stand up to the National Government against any restriction that is not effective or has remained in place for longer than is necessary.

These restrictions must be temporary and removed as quickly as possible.

To our residents, I again urge you to do everything possible to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Wear your mask at all times, keep a safe distance, avoid crowds and confined spaces, and remember that outdoors is always better.

If we all work together over the next 14 days, by changing our behaviour and staying safe, we can have most of these restrictions removed sooner. This should be everyone’s priority.

Source: Government of South Africa