More than 2,000 beds waiting as Gauteng prepares for Covid-19 peak

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the modest flattening of the curve of infections during the lockdown was giving the province space to undertake massive preparatory work on public health infrastructure.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the modest flattening of the curve of infections during the lockdown was giving the province space to undertake massive preparatory work on public health infrastructure.
Image: MOELETSI MABE

Gauteng is making significant progress in preparing public health infrastructure for the period when the Covid-19 pandemic may peak, Gauteng premier David Makhura said on Thursday.

These measures include adding an additional 2,163 beds to accommodate Covid-19 patients, and increased screening and testing.

Briefing the public on the province's Covid-19 response plan, Makhura said the modest flattening of the curve of infections during the lockdown, which began on March 27, was giving the province space to undertake this massive preparatory work.

“In this regard, we have cleared some of our existing hospitals and declared them Covid-19 facilities. This has helped us to make available 555 standard beds and 308 ICU beds,” he said.

Makhura said the province was also putting up new permanent wards in Kopanong, Jubilee, Chris Hani Baragwanath and George Mukhari hospitals.

“This will add 800 new beds which will be used for different purposes.”

Makhura said that on Tuesday, Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku had unveiled the first phase of the Nasrec facility, which will have 500 new beds.

“All these interventions will create additional beds which will be used for different purposes during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Makhura said this week that the province had received a generous donation of 30,000 units of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Bank of China.

“This will go a long way towards ensuring that our health workers are protected.”

He said Gauteng remained the epicentre of SA's Covid-19 pandemic, with 930 of the 2,506 national confirmed cases being in the province as of Wednesday.

“You may recall that before the lockdown, 52% of all confirmed cases in SA were in Gauteng. As of April 15, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in our province constitutes 37% of the national level.”

Makhura said of the 930 confirmed cases, 558 were in Johannesburg, 161 in Ekurhuleni, 104 in Tshwane, 35 in West Rand, and eight in Sedibeng. Sixty-four other cases were unallocated.

Makhura said the lockdown had significantly slowed the infection rate and stopped the importation of cases that were coming through OR Tambo International Airport and other ports of entry.

“Sadly, five of our fellow Gauteng residents have passed on in this battle against Covid-19. On behalf of the provincial government and the people of Gauteng, we send our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. May their souls rest in peace.”

Makhura said the province had significantly improved contact tracing, scaled up the capacity to screen and increased the number of people tested.

“Out of the 6,431 identified contacts who were traced and put under isolation or quarantine, 2,394 have now been cleared of Covid-19. The remaining 4,037 remain under surveillance by our team of tracers until they are cleared.”

Makhura said that since March 31, the province's community health workers and health professionals had screened 196,421 people, of whom 2,591 were referred for testing.

Makhura said law enforcement and security agencies continued to enforce regulations to curb the spread of Covid-19 and undertake anti-crime operations.

“So far, 10,126 suspects have been arrested and 9,624 cases opened — 7,481 are awaiting to appear in court,” Makhura said.


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