Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Bloemfontein: The Premier of Free State, Me Sisi Ntombela and MEC of Health in the province; Me Montseng Tsiu, gave a briefing about COVID-19 status in the Free State Province. The briefing was held at Bophelo House; Bloemfontein.

South Africa is officially in the second wave of the pandemic wi
th the country having exceeded one point three million mark of confirmed corona virus positive cases.
In the Free State as on the 18 January 2021 were standing at 70 891 confirmed cases with 59,268 translating to 84% recoveries.

MEC Tsiu said that they would like to have everybody who tested positive to fully recover and go back to normal life. Unfortunately, there were 2 473 deaths experienced.
“One death is death too many and we regret to announce such a huge number of fatalities.” said MEC Tsiu.
Summary of provincial statistics as at 18 January 2021

Breakdown per district

Mangaung Metro

Mangaung Metro remains to be the leading with the highest infections standing at 30 677. The most affected area is Bloemfontein standing at 23 938, followed by Botshabelo at 3 322, then Thaba Nchu at 2 788 and Naledi at 629.

Taking the population distribution in Mangaung the distribution of infections is proportional to the population.

Lejweleputswa District

The district is second standing at 14 150. Matjhabeng being at the top having exceeded the ten thousand mark and Tokologo being the lowest with only 447 confirmed cases. The mining industry played a big role towards the situation as most of its workforce are migrant laborers from other areas. The possibility is that some might be imported cases.

Thabo Mofutsanyana District

The district has reached a 12 684mark raising serious concerns as the communities there are mostly under privileged and d not have adequate access to amenities. Social determinants on health contribute towards a fight against the virusas basic commodities like water supply is sometimes not consistent.

Maluti a Phofung is highly populated and present challenges of the implementation of non-pharmaceutical protocols such as social distancing and self-isolation in case of need. The situation presents a challenge for the health system to maintain absolute ideal interventions to absolve the community.

Fezile Dabi District

The district stands at 9 277 confirmed cases with Moqhaka being the highest with 3 293 and Metsimaholo not being very far at 3 142. These two are the most developed areas in the district with highest number of the population.

The situation was exacerbated by cluster outbreaks at some boarding schools around the district and its proximity to other provinces. Some of its residents are migrant laborers working in some provinces.

Xhariep District

The district is standing at 4 001confirmed positive cases. Kopanong being the highest with 1 877 confirmed cases. The districts proximity from Eastern Cape where which at some stage led the country in the number of positive cases also influenced the situation communities are quite interacting and share a lot of commonalities and activities.

In summary Thabo Mofutsanyana and Fezile Dabi have become two centers of attraction especially during the second wave of infections. This is depicted from the latest daily infections appearing in the discussions to follow.

Infections in communities

Provincial daily new infections update as on the 18th January 2021

Highlights

There were 379 new cases:

76 in Mangaung Metro,
121 in Fezile Dabi,
97 Thabo Mofutsanyana,
67 in Lejweleputswa,
18 in Xhariep and
0 Unknown districts
Total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province 70,891 with 59,268 (84%) recoveries
o The prevalence among the <20 years is 12% (8251/70891)
o The median (IQR) age of cumulative COVID-19 cases is 40 (29-53) years
o More females are infected (60%; 42230/70724)
2 473 deaths reported in the province till date, with highest case fatality rate reported in Lejweleputswa District. The provincial case fatality rate is 3.5%
o The median (IQR) age of COVID-19 deaths is 64 (54-74) years
o Majority of the deaths are in older age groups – 45 years and above (2154/2473)
o 43% of deaths are recorded among males (1400/2473)

The population group of between ages 30- 34 years remains the most vulnerable and a risk to infections.

Infections on Health Workers

Health workers as frontline staff were severely affected by the virus and unfortunately others succumbed. Despite fatigue and risk that they are exposed to they continue to serve our communities with dedication and distinction.

The following is the statistics on the impact of the virus on the health workforce;

Sector

Total Cases

Active Cases

Recovered

Deceased

Public

3 685

334

3 048

50

Private

342

4

335

3

Total

4 027

338

3 383

53

Admissions at hospitals

The cumulative data is that we are having 9 542 admissions to date in the province and currently having 636 hospitalized patients.

69 in ICU
59 Ventilated
291 oxygenated

Availability of PPE’s

The province is thus far not experiencing any challenges with the PPE’s but we remain on alert to avoid the depletions or shortages. Together with the Labour Unions we are monitoring the situation and with the help of Occupational Health and Safety Committees we are trying to keep the situation in control.

Risks within the province

“We cannot overlook the effect of mining industry in our province. Remember that most of the workers are coming from outside the province and went home for holidays. When they come back this will increase the possibility of cross province infections,”

“As the province we are gearing ourselves for the situation and prepare our district based teams to ready to receive increased numbers in the beginning of the new year. Of course we should not overlook and underestimate the impact of Corona Virus on the health resource and its impact on the ability of the health system to provide health   services for the general population.” continued Tsiu.

Non-pharmaceutical protocols

In the absence of any treatment for COVID- 19 for now; non-pharmaceutical protocols remain the only best way to fight the virus. Tsiu said that they were pleased to see that some of these protocols such as wearing of masks in public are now enforceable, people can be arrested, be prosecuted for transgressions, be liable for a fine and or to serve prison term or both.  

In conclusion Tsiu said that she wanted to emphasise the words of the Premier to implore the citizens of this province to help curb the spread of the virus.

“Lastly let me announce that we are about to receive the first batch of the vaccine. The province made an input to the National Ministry of Health about our provincial roll out plan. Health workers will be the first batch of frontline workers to receive the vaccine. Logic will tell you that it is important to first prioritize soldiers in the battlefield to continue with the struggle.” concluded Tsiu.

In her final remarks, the Premier of the Free State; Me Sisi Ntombela said that this is a very difficult time in the course of the pandemic, as South Africa currently grapples with the second wave of COVID-19 infections.

She continued to say that people have become complacent, and as such, over the past few weeks, we have seen some of the highest numbers of infections, admissions to hospital, and deaths recorded in the districts in which we live.

As a result, the virus has, in the recent past, been spreading at alarming rates in all our District Municipalities.

“We are seeing the younger generation being infected due to the entertainment habits, despite the lockdown regulations in place.  Adults, sadly, should also shoulder the blame as younger people mimic the behaviour of the older generation, which has burdened the health system.” said the Premier.

“Not complying with recommended measures gives the virus the opportunity to spread, putting all of us and our loved ones at the risk of infection, therefore, putting more pressure on health workers,”

“None of us are immune, and the more we fight to break the chains of transmission and stop the virus ourselves, the more we will avoid severe cases and tragic, unnecessary deaths. It is prudent for me to pass condolences to the families of those who have succumbed to the virus, as well as to commend each and every citizen who has played their part, no matter how small, to curb the spread of the virus. The war is far from over, but we shall overcome.” said the Premier in closing.