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Dr Keith Cloete, HOD of the Western Cape Health Department talks to Kieno Kammies about the higher number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in the province than in the rest of South Africa.

Cloete says the province had earlier seeding of local transmission than has happened in other provinces.

We are earlier on the trajectory and we can track it back now. By the third week of April, which was about the second week of lockdown, we saw a significant increase of infections in essential workplaces, where people went to, such as supermarkets.

Dr Keith Cloete, HOD - Western Cape Health

The department has so far traced 900 cases seeded through those essential places, he adds.

People that work in those places come from poorer more vulnerable communities, so when they go back home that is where the community transmission was seeded at multiple places.

Dr Keith Cloete, HOD - Western Cape Health

He says once that took root the transmission rate grew at multiple sites at the same time.

But why has this happened more in the Western Cape than elsewhere?

Cloete says before lockdown, there were significantly more tourists in Cape Town.

That contact with our local people is probably the reason for the seeding that showed up two weeks later.

Dr Keith Cloete, HOD - Western Cape Health

He suggests there may be specific Western Cape climatic factors that have played a role as well.

Whenever flu came through it was different in the Western Cape because of the climatic situation.

Dr Keith Cloete, HOD - Western Cape Health

He says structural density on the Cape Flats also is a factor.

We are seeing that the cases and deaths are commensurate with a faster spread and we were hitting testing at a different time on our trajectory than other provinces so were likely to find more cases and clusters.

Dr Keith Cloete, HOD - Western Cape Health

Cloete says the Western Cape government had a productive meeting on Thursday with community action groups on ow to help delay transmission in densely populated areas, which it is so much harder to practice social distancing given socio-economic conditions.

He says it is key to work with groups within communities.

I think imposing solutions on people would be very difficult. coming in and policing is very difficult. it has to be owned by people and they have to understand it and buy-in and then see if you really can do social distancing on that sidewalk outside a shopping mall in these dense areas.

Dr Keith Cloete, HOD - Western Cape Health

He says there are young and innovative people who have come forward and offered creative ideas and want to be part of the solution.

They hope to implement practical differences in those local pockets where transmission is higher in the coming weeks, he adds.

In terms of new and developing innovative treatments for Covid-19?

He says research now shows better results when there is a delay putting patients onto ventilators and first give them high-flow oxygen as an alternative

That is what the guys at Tygerberg are doing. They have found some very promising early results by giving high-flow oxygen rather than putting someone on a ventilator.

Dr Keith Cloete, HOD - Western Cape Health

The micro coagulants is also a promising area of research, he says.

The third area is being carried out at Groote Schuur Hospital in patients who need oxygen, prior to becoming severely compromised, is nursing them in a hospital bed prone, meaning on their stomachs

There have been good results form them lying on their stomachs taking oxygen rather than on their backs.

Dr Keith Cloete, HOD - Western Cape Health

Listen to the interview below:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : W Cape Health Covid-19 update: Innovative treatments seeing promising results

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