The National Health Department said it needed to increase community screening and contact tracing and have active and informed use of epidemiological data, community engagement and the risk-adjusted strategy but they were also looking at issues of strengthening their system. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)
The National Health Department said it needed to increase community screening and contact tracing and have active and informed use of epidemiological data, community engagement and the risk-adjusted strategy but they were also looking at issues of strengthening their system. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

SA prepares for third wave of infections, ramps up capacity

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Jun 4, 2021

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DURBAN - WITH four provinces having already entered the third wave of Covid-19 infections, the national Health Department is preparing for a resurgence in South Africa.

On Thursday, national Health Department Drug-Resistant TB, TB & HIV director Dr Norbert Ndjeka shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) African region about how South Africa was ramping-up treatment capacities.

Ndjeka said they were talking to all provinces because from the first two waves they learnt that despite early interventions cases increased at some point.

“Learning from all this, we need to increase community screening and contact tracing and have active and informed use of epidemiological data, community engagement and the risk-adjusted strategy but we are also looking at issues of strengthening our system,” said Ndjeka.

He said provinces were visited to prepare and identify key monitoring indicators to track a resurgence because it was important to know what was happening before it happened so that they could start making plans, but also to establish thresholds and metrics that can alert a geographic area to a resurgence.

“We also guide our provinces on actions to be taken to mitigate and respond to resurgence,” said Ndjeka.

He said they also looked at hospital readiness and were in constant collaboration with their provincial colleagues.

“We’re monitoring hospital functionality in terms of availability of beds both for Covid and non-Covid and ICU beds.

“We monitor the availability of ventilators but, more importantly, we also monitor the oxygen utilisation at facilities, both private and public sector. We now have an electronic system to manage oxygen which is being taken up by 50 hospitals in a country, which is very exciting,” said Ndjeka.

on Thursday, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) acting executive director Professor Adrian Puren said they saw a sharp increase in daily cases, with 5 782 new cases being reported.

The percent testing positive daily had also been increasing steadily and it reached 12.7% on Thursday, nationally.

“This means that the 7-day moving average of case incidence has reached 30% of the previous peak in these provinces. We are also seeing sustained increases in case incidence in some districts in other provinces,” said Puren.

He said as the pandemic continued into its second year, it was easy to become tired of the restrictions but it was very important for the public to remain vigilant at this time.

Just over 1 million people had been vaccinated in South Africa.

WHO regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said there have been more than 4.8 million Covid-19 cases and 131 000 people had died in Africa.

“In the past week, 74 000 new cases were reported – an increase of 9% over the previous week. We are seeing rising cases in South Africa and Uganda, and cases have increased abruptly in eight countries, including Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria in the past seven days.”

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