News24 Wire
Wire Service
2 minute read
27 Apr 2020
1:00 pm

South Africa’s hospitals not overwhelmed yet, MPs hear

News24 Wire

The acting director-general of the Department of Health said at the moment there isn't a high demand for high care of Covid-19 patients.

President Cyril Ramaphosa visits the Covid-19 coronavirus treatment facilities at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg on April 24, 2020. Picture: Jerome Delay / POOL / AFP

South African hospitals are currently not overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic, acting director-general of the Department of Health, Anban Pillay, said on Monday.

Pillay and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize addressed the Portfolio Committee on Health and the Select Committee on Health and Social Services in a virtual meeting early on Monday morning.

Pillay said at the moment there isn’t a high demand for high care of Covid-19 patients.

“Our hospitals are currently not overwhelmed,” he said.

According to one of the graphs he presented to the committees, based on figures as at 25 April, 353 patients were in hospitals around the country, the highest being in KwaZulu-Natal at 143.

Of that, 42 patients were in intensive care units, the highest number being in the Western Cape, with 19. The Free State and North West had no patients in intensive care units, while Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape have no patients in hospitals at all.

Mkhize said at the moment there also hasn’t been a lot of ventilator usage.

According to the department’s statistics, as at 25 April, 27 patients were on ventilators – nine in the Western Cape, eight each in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape and two in KwaZulu-Natal.

Mkhize said the current thinking on treating Covid-19 patients places “less rush to putting people on invasive ventilators”.

He added that there are 288 quarantine sites, with around 23 000 beds. Currently, around 207 sites are active, in line with demand.

People in quarantine are mostly those who can’t self-isolate, and repatriated citizens. Due to the latter arriving at OR Tambo International Airport, most of the quarantine sites are in Gauteng.

Mkhize said communities need to be encouraged to not store human remains for too long. In total, there are storage facilities for about 36 000 human remains – 28 000 in the private sector and 8 000 in the public sector.

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