The Eastern Cape has overtaken Gauteng as the province with the highest number of deaths attributed to Covid-19, with 5060 people having tragically lost their lives to this disease.
The death toll comes despite having almost half the number of Covid-19 recorded cases than what Gauteng does.
Even more concerning is that, on Monday, 7 December, the Eastern Cape epidemiological report indicated that in the previous twenty-four hours, no Covid-19 deaths had been reported.
On Tuesday, however, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) stated that the Eastern Cape had suffered a further 82 Covid-19 related deaths.
How is it possible that in one twenty-four-hour period, nobody is reported as having died, and then in the next twenty four-hours, 82 people had succumbed?
This highlights the ongoing concern that statistics released by the province are neither accurate nor consistent.
The Epidemiological report gave a list of key areas which require improvement in terms of the Health Department’s response to the pandemic, which includes
- Collection and testing of specimens
- Prioritising contact tracing
- Isolating positive cases and quarantine contacts to minimise transmission
- Promoting prevention measures such as wearing of masks
- Sanitising and social distancing
- Strengthening Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and OHS (Occupational Health Standards) at hospitals, and
- Engaging and empowering communities to protect themselves.
It is deeply concerning that these key areas for improvement have been exactly the same throughout the pandemic, with no tangible improvement in any of these areas.
In Hamburg and Wesley, where cases are spiralling out of control, nobody wants to go to the clinics as some people who have been there become infected afterwards.
Outlying villages such as Bell and Gcinisa are spread out and the only effective means of teasing will be a mobile testing unit but there are none serving them.
In Nelson Mandela Bay district, daily queries as to where residents can be tested are the norm.
In Kouga, people employed as Health Promotion Practitioners to assist with the Covid-19 response, have yet to be paid, despite their colleagues in the Nelson Mandela Bay district being paid.
In Cradock and Middleburg, hotels and B&B’s have not been paid for hosting People Under Investigation (PUI’s) in isolation, and now refuse to accommodate them any longer.
These challenges should all have been resolved by now, nine full months after the pandemic reached our shores. The fact that they have not, points to shockingly poor leadership, both political and administrative.
I will write to the Minister of Health, Doctor Zweli Mkhize and request intervention from a national level to address the issues of administration and management in the Health Department in our province, as our citizens deserve a functional and capacitated healthcare service.
In a capable state, leadership can address the key issues that hinder the Covid-19 response. In a capable state, leadership can clean up the mess that is the administration of the department.
Because this province has leaders who are incapable, we will not be able to rein in the second surge of Covid-19 and citizens will continue to die.