300 extra nurses to help with Gauteng's serious cases, more ventilators coming

Health minister Zweli Mkhize told Stephen Grootes on the SAfm Sunrise show that the nurses would help in the ICU and high-care wards and areas that are under pressure.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize told  Stephen Grootes on the SAfm Sunrise show that the nurses would help in the ICU and high-care wards and areas that are under pressure.
Image: Photo by Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe

Gauteng has been boosted its health-care services with an additional 300 nurses to help arrest the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize told  Stephen Grootes on the SAfm Sunrise show that the nurses would help in the ICU and high-care wards and areas that were under pressure.

Mkhize warned that Covid-19 cases in Gauteng were rising faster than in other parts of the country.

“Gauteng is facing real pressure in trauma units because people come with stab wounds, gunshot wounds, motor vehicle accidents and drunken driving and that is putting pressure on the hospitals,” Mkhize said.

Mkhize said support was also sent to the Eastern Cape which was struggling to cope with the Covid-19 surge.

He said the province's health services had been boosted with the arrival of 20 Cuban health specialists three weeks ago and this week the defence force had deployed 52 health-care workers, including 35 nurses, 12 doctors and five clinical associates.

Truckloads of PPEs and officials to help in managerial positions had been sent to the province, Mkhize said.

Mkhize said he was also in discussion with unions to “see where there are other areas for concern”.

He said his department would be increasing the number of beds available across the country to meet the number of admissions for July.

Mkhize said there were enough ventilators available to fight the surge, but the department would receive an additional 2,000 ventilators by the end of the month.

He added that the country would receive a total of 20,000 ventilators by the end of August. The new ventilators were easier to use and would be placed in smaller district hospitals where there were no ICUs available, Mkhize said.

Field hospitals have been launched across the country to help relieve some of the pressure faced by hospitals.

Mkhize said doctors would assess patients and make a decision on the level of care that was needed.

Patients with less serious symptoms would be treated at field hospitals while the rest would stay in hospitals.

He said the department had reduced community testing and had now shifted its attention to people coming into hospitals with symptoms.

According to Mkhize, more than 1.8 million people have been tested.

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He said his department was working closely with the department of education to ensure that all safety protocols were being followed in schools.

“Covid-19 will be with us till the end of the year and next year, so it is not possible to keep the schools closed all the time. There has to be an effort to try to return to normality.”

No decision had been taken on the cigarette ban and people should be patient, he said.

Mkhize said they were also investigating the death of Shonisani Lethole at a Tembisa hospital.  

On June 25, Lethole, a patient at the hospital, turned to Twitter, tagging health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize as he complained about not being fed for two days. Lethole died four days after his tweet.

“It is an unfortunate situation and we would not like to see any of the staff be so neglectful, if that is the case. So we will be investigating the case.”

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