Concern as Covid-19 cases increase

Sister Yolanda Burns in Groote Schuur Hospital’s Covid-19 ward.

The pressure is mounting for Sister Yolanda Burns and her colleagues at Groote Schuur Hospital with the onset of a secondwave surge in Covid-19 cases.

The hospital, like others across the country, is going on high alert to deal with a sudden influx of patients with the virus.

According to provincial government data, Covid-19 cases started rising in the Western Cape from the end of October.

At the end of September, there were 110 000 cases in the province.

There are now over 141 000.

The number of daily cases being diagnosed, over a seven-day moving average, has increased ten fold – from 130 in late September to 1 300.

In late September, 5% of Covid19 tests were coming back positive; now one quarter of tests are positive for the virus.

And average daily deaths in the province have quadrupled from about five in late September to more than 20.

More than 4 800 people in the Western Cape have died of Covid19.

These numbers translate into Continued on page 3 added pressure for front-line workers like Sister Burns, the clinical manager at Groote Schuur’s Covid19 ward.

“It has been very challenging as I manage a 16-bed ward that is full, and we have to make sure we provide the best care for the patients in the ward,” she said.

During the peak in July, Groote Schuur saw 1 139 Covid patients. That eased to 604 cases in August and to 322 cases in October. But now the case load is picking up again.

According to hospital spokesman, Alaric Jacobs, the hospital had 375 cases in November.

“The hospital has had to scale up the dedicated Covid-19 wards again to respond to the rising number of patients,” he said.

The year had been very tough on the hospital’s front-line staff, he added.

“They are here to serve patients and have been doing that to the best of their ability.”

Sister Burns has done more than battle Covid-19 in the wards, she has also fallen ill with the virus.

Although her symptoms were mild and she has since returned to work after a period of self-isolation, she said the experience helped her better understand what her patients went through.

“I put a lot of emphasis on educating patients and their families about Covid-19.”

Her greatest satisfaction came from seeing patients recovering and then going home, she said.

“Earlier this week, I had a husband and wife recovering and going home together and that gives us as staff the most satisfaction.”

Groote Schuur reminds people to stay home and arrange a test if they feel sick; keep their distance from others; cover a cough; open doors and windows; avoid crowds, close-contact and confined spaces; and wash or sanitise hands often.

Call the provincial Covid-19 hotline at 080 928 4102 or visit www.westerncape.gov.za for more information.