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Nasrec facility will help as Gauteng hospitalisations surge: David Makhura

David Makhura tours Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, which is under pressure as Covid-19 infections surge.
David Makhura tours Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, which is under pressure as Covid-19 infections surge.
Image: Shonisani Tshikalange

Gauteng premier David Makhura said Tshwane is the hardest-hit by the second wave of Covid-19 as it records the province's highest daily infections.

“It's at the centre, it's where the heat is at the moment,” Makhura said.

He said the evidence showed that the second wave would be worse than the first.

“We are just where we were at the peak of the first wave and we are passing that peak, all models are telling us,” he said.

Makhura visited Steve Biko Academic Hospital in the city with the health MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, on Monday. This was after the department of health reported that the hospital was experiencing a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 patients, which has been noted since December.

When TimesLIVE visited the hospital on Monday, health-care workers stood at the door to sanitise those entering the emergency entrance. A few patients stood in a queue, observing social distancing, outside, next to the recently erected “fever tents”.

Makhura said some patients had come from as far as Ga-Rankuwa. “Over the last seven days, that is from Sunday the 3rd to Sunday the 10th, the infection rate and admission in our hospitals has been doubling. From the release of the national statistics, the number of fatalities have increased exponentially in Gauteng.”

On Sunday, the department reported that an increased number of patients at Steve Biko were sicker and required critical care, with some arriving in groups and putting serious pressure on the facility.

He said the fever tents had been helpful.

“A lot of people who come here are not tested and they have to be tested and await for their results. We use fever tents across the province as areas where patients under investigation (PUI) are put,” he said.

Makhura said in the past seven days, admissions to public hospitals in Gauteng increased from 700 to more than 2,000. He said combined with private hospitals the admissions exceeded 4,000.

“We had prepared for January, that there would be an increase as people come back [from holidays] and the numbers are increasing. The next two weeks are going to be critical on the side of government. We are doing everything in our power, working with our health-care workers,” he said.

Fever tents have been set up to screen and treat Covid patients.
Fever tents have been set up to screen and treat Covid patients.
Image: Shonisani Tshikalange

Makhura said they would be using the Nasrec field hospital again, after it was downscaled when other field hospitals were closed. He said the province was also looking again at the contracts which were in place during the first wave of the pandemic.

“We are going back to Nasrec. Our health-care system was able to cope during the first wave. As we speak now, Nasrec has 500 beds which will be able to deal with critical care and 500 for quarantine,” he said.

Mokgethi said they were managing the stock levels of PPE at hospitals and also managing the availability constantly.

“We had a meeting with all the CEOs of all the hospital to assess our PPE availability and there were no issues around that,” she said.


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