Wits prof and health MEC Bandile Masuku butt heads over Gauteng's readiness for Covid-19 'storm'

Prof Alex van den Heever told eNCA on Wednesday morning that the Western Cape appeared to be much more successful than Gauteng in preparing to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prof Alex van den Heever told eNCA on Wednesday morning that the Western Cape appeared to be much more successful than Gauteng in preparing to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image: ALON SKUY

Wits professor Alex van den Heever has criticised Gauteng for failing to prepare for “the storm”, saying the province lacked a strategic plan to handle a surge of Covid-19 cases.

Van den Heever, who is a professor at the Wits School of Governance, told eNCA on Wednesday that it was difficult to assess Gauteng's response because there was no “public or strategic” document available.

“In the Western Cape they did have one and I have read the strategy and understood what they were doing. When the testing became very difficult to keep with one strategy, they altered it,” he told eNCA.

He said there may be a strategic document for Gauteng but he had not seen it.

Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku, however, disputed the assertion, saying the province did have a focused strategy to fight the pandemic.

Van den Heever said: “What we are seeing at the moment is whatever strategy there is ... is not working from a prevention perspective and prevention in this pandemic is absolutely key. We can’t manage this pandemic with health services alone.

“There was this narrative being presented both by the MEC [Bandile Masuku] and the national health minister [Zweli Mkhize] which suggested that there is some sort of coming storm ... if that was their strategic objective to wait for a storm, then we failed, because they were actually preparing and expecting failure,” he said.

 Masuku told eNCA, “Our strategy has been quite focused and there is evidence of work that we have done on focusing on hotspots.

“When you talk about prevention not being effective, it becomes a big problem, maybe he [Van den Heever] must from his educated point of view indicate what he means when he says the strategy is not working and there is not a strategy.”

The provincial health department said on Tuesday that more than 2,500 people were being hospitalised in the province with  Covid-19.

As of Monday, there were 66,891 cases recorded in the province, with 19,779 recoveries and 403 deaths.

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