The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, treated close to 3 000 patients in its trauma unit during June.
Statistics compiled by the Gauteng Department of Health show that between the period of 1 to 30 June, the trauma unit treated 2 730 patients.
The cases related to gunshots, stabbings, motor vehicle accidents, passenger vehicle accidents (involving buses and taxis), burns, assaults, falls, cuts, motorbike accidents and other trauma.
In addition, the breakdown of statistics shows the trauma unit saw more than 100 cases on seven days out of the month; 1 June with 117, 2 June with 120, 13 June with 132, 20 June with 109, 27 June with 133, 29 June with 104 and 30 June with 141 patients.
March 2020: Hard lockdown
In March, Chris Hani Baragwanath treated 78 gunshot cases, 223 stabbings, 702 fall victims, 204 cases related to motor vehicle accidents, 184 for passenger vehicle accidents, 119 for burns, 442 for assaults and 268 for other trauma.
This comes to a total of 2 217.
The country went into a hard lockdown from 27 March.
In April, the first full month of the hard lockdown, the trauma unit treated the following cases:
- 48 for gunshots;
- 94 for stabs;
- 396 for falls;
- 59 for motor vehicle accidents;
- 51 for passenger vehicle accidents;
- 110 for burns;
- 228 for assaults; and
- 165 for other trauma.
This comes to a total of 1 151, a 48% drop in cases from March, which saw only five days of the month under level 5 of the lockdown.
Statistics showed that in May (which was marked by alert level 4), the trauma unit treated the following cases:
- 59 for gunshots;
- 138 for stabs;
- 553 for falls;
- 98 for motor vehicle accidents;
- 108 for passenger vehicle accidents;
- 163 for burns;
- 267 for assaults; and
- 237 for other trauma.
This combined for a total of 1 623 cases, a spike of 472 cases compared to April.
Level 3 of the lockdown commenced from 1 June, which allowed for the sale of alcohol during a specific period (09.00am to 17.00pm) between Monday and Thursday.
With the curfew being dropped and the resumption of the sale of alcohol, hospitals started reporting a spike in trauma cases almost immediately. This led to widespread calls for a return of the ban on the sale of alcohol.
In June, Chris Hani Baragwanath recorded an increase of over 1 000 cases compared to May.
On Sunday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the immediate ban of the distribution and sale of alcohol products after a meeting with the National Coronavirus Command Council.
Healthcare workers have reportedly claimed they have since been inundated with loads of patients admitted to emergency wards for further medical care.
Just days after the easing of restrictions, there were reports of trauma units at a number of hospitals across the country straining under the pressure of increased cases, many linked to alcohol consumption.
These statistics come as Gauteng is headed towards what has been dubbed a “Covid-19 storm” with a prediction of 120 000 cases by the end of July and 200 000 by the end of August.
Hospitals that are feeling the pressure are now treating seriously ill Covid-19 patients while managing other patients who come in for other ailments, injuries and emergencies.
Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku previously said the health system in the province could find itself in a situation where some patients would not be able to secure an intensive care unit bed.
He further added that it would be the clinicians who would decide which patients get priority in the trauma unit – Covid-19 or not.
“As a doctor, I will have to make sure who does need it very well in terms of saving lives, who needs it more than the other because lives in any case, whether Covid or not, it is still something that is precious, that we need to fight for. We still have to preserve life, whether it’s Covid or not.”
As of Sunday, 12 July, Gauteng had recorded 98 431 cases, 32 958 recoveries and 644 deaths.