Cape Town – The Health Department has always been on guard in the likelihood that South Africa entered a third wave of Covid-19, Deputy Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla said on Sunday.
“We’ve always [been] on guard with the understanding that the likelihood of a third wave was always going to be there,” he said speaking to Newzroom Afrika.
He said as more and more people get vaccinated in the future, the country would be more protected.
“But, as our vaccination programme is just picking up, the advent of this third wave was always going to be a challenge.”
He said the healthcare facilities nationwide were not overwhelmed with the current number of case, but cautioned that if the numbers continued to rise, they would need to make plans to open beds in hospitals.
When asked about hospitals already delaying and postponing operations to deal with capacity and lack of resources, Phaahla said even if the department had contingency plans, the pandemic was not predictable.
“As much as we knew that there will be a third wave and we have to have contingency plans, this is the kind of pandemic [where] nobody can say they have very clear scientific prediction of how it is going to pan out,” Phaahla said in the live televised interview.
He said that the threat of overwhelming the healthcare facilities was there if the positive cases continued to rise daily.
“As it is emerging we are starting to see a higher number than what we had expected as the rise has been happening, so we have to make those adjustments,” he told Newzroom Afrika.
“But I wouldn’t say at the current moment that we have reached a crisis point, there is a threat that increasing if this rise in numbers is sustained over a longer period it might reach a crisis point.”
Phaahla said as a department it accepted that there would never be enough health facilities to deal with a pandemic like Covid-19 and the third wave South Africa was currently experiencing.
“The spike has been quite steep, especially in Gauteng. We have gone far beyond even the highest peak of the second wave,” Phaahla said.
He said in the last few days Gauteng breached 8 000 new cases daily.
Phaahla said that over the next few days as people start feeling sicker, it would be more taxing on the health facilities.
“It is going to be a tall order to cope with the situation and we will be working very closely with the province.”