Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
4 minute read
7 May 2021
2:10 pm

4500 beds available in Gauteng hospitals for Covid-19 wave

Molefe Seeletsa

The province is also going to need 2,400 critical beds and 7,500 general beds to meet demand during the peak of the third wave, says Premier Makhura.

Healthcare workers treating Covid-19 patients at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The Gauteng government has made 4,564 bed spaces available for Covid-19 patients amid concerns about rising infections.

This comes after Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the province was in the early phases of a third wave.

The premier, however, said the province was prepared and the focus had fallen on flattening the infection curve.

“We have also added additional staff – 4,000 professionals – to the staff complement of the department of health,” he said on Thursday.

While giving an update on Covid-19 in Gauteng, alongside the provincial command council (PCC) on Friday afternoon, Makhura noted that the increase in the number cases was a matter for concern.

Earlier during the briefing Premier advisory council (PAC) chairperson Dr Mary Kawonga said all Gauteng districts had seen an increase in cases in the past week, with the highest increases recorded in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Sedibeng.

Kawonga said Emfuleni was the most concerning sub-district.

“The number of cases from Monday this week have doubled from last week. This a worrying trend. There has been a sustained increase particularly in Emfuleni. Emfuleni is approaching a third wave threshold after consistently recording the highest daily cases every day for the past three weeks,” she said.

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Dr Kawonga agreed with projections by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) that the third wave was unlikely to be more severe than the preceding waves.

According to the NICD, Gauteng is expected to be the hardest-hit province, since it is home to more than a quarter of South Africa’s population.

Hospital Beds

Commenting on the first and second waves, Makhura said he believed the lessons learned from them would help authorities to better prepare for the third wave, adding that more than 4,000 hospital beds were available.

“When Covid-19 first hit, the province had 1,193 beds, we now have 4,564 available beds. With regards to human resources, we are better prepared than we were in May 2020. The availability of oxygen is also a key priority.

“Our response to Covid-19 is not only to deal with the current pandemic, but our interventions will last for the next 20 years or more. We have put in place permanent structures,” he said.

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However during the peak of the third wave, the province is going to need 2,400 critical beds and 7,500 general beds to meet the demand, according to department of health head of infrastructure Dr Sifiso Maseko.

Maseko said the province was currently utilising 3,261 functional beds for admissions and 803 beds for quarantine and isolation, including 150 beds at newly opened Bronkhorstspruit Hospital yesterday.

Additional capacity amounting to 500 beds has been completed and equipped with health technology at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital for future use.

Charlotte Maxeke Hospital fire

It was also revealed that the fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg affected 311 beds.

The hospital will be opened in a phased approach, which will see the oncology, obstetrics and gynaecology wards opened first, with the fire inspection having been completed.

Air quality results will be released in due time, Maseko said.

Plan to restore services at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. Source: Gauteng Province

Vaccinations

Makhura said there appears to be resistance vaccinations as a result of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being temporarily suspended, adding that only 200,000 out of 1,3 million people had registered under phase 2 of the vaccination programme.

He noted that the vaccination drive would also have to be informed by the case numbers.

“We know vaccination is important but we will only get a limited number of doses so we will have to use a combination of strategies,” he said.

The premier also warned against complacency, especially from the youth attending potential super-spreader events.

“We are appealing to the people of Gauteng to continue to follow all non-pharmaceutical interventions. We have won the battle of the second wave, we can lessen the severity of the third wave by not allowing fatigue to take over,” he said.