Western Cape Coronavirus peak likely to be flatter, later and longer

coronavirus peak
Photo by Tai's Captures on Unsplash

During a digicon on July 2, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde revealed that new data now predicts that the Cape’s coronavirus peak will be flatter, later and last longer than expected.

In April, Winde revealed the province’s very first scenario planning projections to the public. However, these projections could not be based on real data in the province, as there simply wasn’t enough cases in the Western Cape and South Africa at the time. Therefore, the city and its partners looked at international trends, population size, and factored in reasonable epidemiological assumptions.

To recap, at the end of May, the National Covid-19 Epi-Model (NCEM) predicted that the province would first see a coronavirus peak towards the end of June/ beginning of July 2020. As a result, approximately 7 800 beds would be required for this predicted peak, with approximately 9 300 predicted deaths (over the entire curve).

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But, once the number of cases climbed in the province, and more real data became available, more accurate projections have been drawn. Below is a breakdown of what the latest data reveals and what that means for Western Cape.

  • The coronavirus peak in the Western Cape seems to be later than was originally projected and is likely to take place from end of July to beginning of August.
  • This peak is also flatter than was originally projected. This means that we will not have as many hospitalisations and deaths at the peak as we originally thought.
  • As a result, it is projected that 5450 beds will be needed at the coronavirus peak should this scenario hold. This is lower than both the original provisioning scenario from April (6 304) and the previous NCEM calibration from May (7 800).
  • However, this flatter trajectory would last for longer. This means potentially more cumulative deaths of approximately 10 000 people during the pandemic.
  • The virus is could be with us for longer than we thought, with this first peak only ending towards end of November. 

“Given this latest projection and given that we have not seen the expected surge in hospitalisations, we will not proceed with a CTICC 2 Hospital of Hope expansion at this stage. Our existing platform, with the operational field hospitals, and private sector capacity, means we have capacity at this stage to manage the expected burden,” Winde said in a statement.

“However, we have done extensive planning for such an expansion and it remains “on-the-table” should the data suggest it will be needed.

Indeed, these latest projections can change given the unprecedented nature of this pandemic, and so we will continually analyse the data to make the best possible decisions in this uncertain time.”

The Western Cape Government Cabinet has also approved a plan to purchase additional beds in private facilities for public sector patients. The advantages of the plan are reportedly multi-fold:

  • The infrastructure and capacity (they are fully equipped and staffed) exists in place and can be accessed anytime when available.
  • We have done the preparatory work and have signed off with the major private hospital groups and is in the process to sign independent practitioners.
  • Several engagements, processes and mechanisms have been put in place to manage the interface between the public sector and private sector including referral, governance, billing and information management through an intermediary, ethics committee, evidence-led clinical guidelines.
  • This also adds capacity in rural areas, that do not have access to existing field hospitals in the Cape Metro.

It’s important to note that these predictions are based on modelling of data and that the collective behaviour within the city could affect the coronavirus peak. Read more on the latest COVID-19 related news, right here.

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