South Africa: Gauteng Becomes Covid-19 Epicentre Once Again

The Gauteng Provincial Government is gearing up for the worst-case scenario as the second wave of COVID-19 infections rears its ugly head in the province.

Addressing the media on Tuesday, Premier David Makhura said Gauteng is now the second most affected province in the country in terms of active Coronavirus cases after KwaZulu-Natal.

The province has 50 000 patients who are currently battling with COVID-19, while hospital admissions are increasing rapidly.

“Active cases are an important measure of the pace of the pandemic,” he explained.

Also, over 30% of the people who are taking the COVID-19 test come back positive.

“The private sector is also not coping, we’re coordinating and working together in a number of instances we’ve also admitted some of the private patients in the public sector.”

Meanwhile, the rate of those who are succumbing to the novel Coronavirus is also rising.

It is for this reason the province is now doubling its efforts to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and pleading with citizens follow the health protocols as Gauteng continues to be a hotspot.

The province’s three metros, City of Ekurhuleni, City of Johannesburg and City of Tshwane are also on high alert.

In the last four days, the rate of increases has surpassed the highest daily infections during the first peak, reaching close to 7 000 new cases on Friday last week.

“We have doubled the numbers in the last seven days and is double to what it was a week before.”

Makhura said they are also seeing many young people who are being hospitalised due to COVID-19 complications.

“We haven’t seen the impact of level 3 restrictions, the scientists say it takes a little bit of time to start seeing a positive impact,” he said.

However, he has welcomed the alcohol restrictions that led to a drop in the number of trauma admissions.

While the additional infections are surging, the Premier said the hospitals have not reached maximum capacity.

However, he said the latest figures are concerning.

“There’s no part of the province that is being spared even though the number of infections may be fewer in certain areas.”

In the meantime, the province is embarking on hotspot tracking, while doing tracing, testing and isolating people.

He is also advocating for behavioural change to contain the spread of the virus.

The province is upscaling care facilities by increasing the number of beds, retaining contract healthcare workers and improving access to oxygen.

According to Makhura, 220 patients are currently on ventilation in Gauteng hospitals, while 384 are on oxygen support.

Makhura said the province has an additional 2 419 beds and will have an extra 525 by the end of January.

“As we have more infections, we’re going to experience more hospital admissions. We’re not even at the peak,” he warned.

He predicts that Gauteng will also need the Nasrec Field Hospital to be fully operational.

“The conclusion is that we have better capacity at the moment to face the second wave than we had in terms of the number of beds, as well as personnel and health technologists.”

However, indicators show that the province will need all hands on deck.

“We’d like to appeal to communities to help our healthcare system by continuing to sanitise hands, wear the mask, social distance and by staying away from funerals unless it’s a family funeral.”

Meanwhile, Makhura said Gauteng has enough personal protective equipment for the frontline workers after a two-month shortage last year.

However, he said the province is now back on track.


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