– The Eastern Cape has now become the focus of the National Department of Health’s Covid-19 preventative strategy

– With high fatality figures and the province’s proximity to the nation’s epicentre, efforts are being ramped up to curb the spread of the virus

– Briefly.co.za explores the plan to flatten the curb in the region

The National Department of Health has turned its attention to the Eastern Cape province in its mission to combat Covid-19.

Briefly.co.za learned that additional resources are being deployed to the region in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

The Department has revealed that the province is currently a major concern in the fight against the pandemic:

The National Department of Health’s COVID-19 preventative strategy has now turned focus to the embattled Eastern Cape, with additional resources being deployed to the province to ramp up efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

“While it may be argued that Gauteng and Eastern Cape share similar COVID-19 infection figures, the latter has recorded the second-highest number of deaths as result of the virus in the country, and its proximity to South Africa’s COVID-19 epicentre, the Western Cape, adding to concerns about the epidemiology of the virus there.”

The rise in health care workers in the Eastern Cape becoming infected was also highlighted as a concern:

“In addition, an increase in the infection rate among health care workers – both in the public and private sectors – has also been noticed. As at June 6, Eastern Cape had recorded 258 COVID-19 positive health care workers, with 14 succumbing to the virus.”

Interventions have now been actioned to counter the spread of the virus explained the Department:

“Epidemiological hotspots are being divided into sub-districts to facilitate a strong community-based response to the spread of the virus. This decentralisation is particularly important for rural areas, to ensure they are adequately capacitated and empowered to successfully manage the epidemic locally.”

Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize has identified concerns specifically relevant to the province, one of which is a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment.

A team of experts from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has been sent to the province, responsible for fast-tracking PPE delivery to the region and working in conjunction with contact tracing and community screening teams.

The number of health care workers will be bolstered by the deployment of 20 members of the Cuban Brigade, with 840 additional nurses employed.

Another critical issue was the backlog in testing with the Port Elizabeth lab reducing this from 13 000 to 5 106.

The expectations are that this will be clearing in coming with weeks, with the backlog in Umthatha currently at 8 000:

“The Department will also be increasing the number of kits being sent to East London while the National Health Laboratory Service explores other testing modalities that don’t require pathologists.”

this article was originally published at: https://briefly.co.za/67441-explainer-dept-healths-plan-fight-covid-19-eastern-cape.html