Image via Adobestock
Image via Adobestock
The Western Cape Provincial Health Department’s latest data on COVID-19 fatalities suggest that people with diabetes are more likely to die from Covid-19 than any other high-risk group.
Released data also showed that HIV positive people are not significantly more like to succumb to COVID-19.
The provincial health department estimates that out of every 100 people within the public health care sector who died from COVID-19, 52 had diabetes, followed by 19 with hypertension and 12 with HIV.
Previous data released by the department indicated that in the age bracket 40-60, diabetes was the leading comorbidity.
The department have warned against drawing any inferences from the incomplete data which does not include other risk factors such as body mass index (BMI).
The Western Cape Health Department have sought to address the province’s high rate of COVID-19 infection by focusing on high-risk patients.
These include people with diabetes, hypertension, HIV, TB or cancer with a special focus being placed on people over 55 and those with compromised immune function. Head of the department Dr Keith Cloete revealed earlier this month that the Cape Town Metro which is the epicentre of the virus in the Western Cape, will no longer be testing anyone under 55-years-old.
The department believes that their strategy is a sound one based on the current data.
“We are reassured that the increased risk of poor Covid-19 outcomes for people with HIV is not significant and lower than what might have been expected, but people with HIV and TB need to be considered a risk group especially if they have other comorbidities,” the department said this week.
“Recent findings by the Western Cape department of health on risk factors for dying from COVID-19 have confirmed a number of patient characteristics and comorbidities.
“This aligns with the department’s shift in testing strategy to prioritise persons most at risk for severe diseases which are diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer treatment, TB, HIV with poor adherence to ARVs, and chronic lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.”
The department are hopeful that a reduction in testing backlog will help the Western Cape slow the spread of the virus.
“This in turn allows us to engage those who need to isolate and quarantine early, before the virus spreads further,” Dr Cloete said.
“Supporting our testing strategy is a key finding in a recent study which shows that individuals at an older age and diabetes were the factors most strongly associated with COVID-19 mortality, in keeping with studies from other settings,” the department said.