Covid-19 patients being treated with oxygen at the Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize this week said South Africa could run out of available hospital beds within the month. " Picture: Jerome Delay/AP
Covid-19 patients being treated with oxygen at the Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize this week said South Africa could run out of available hospital beds within the month. " Picture: Jerome Delay/AP

Oxygen runs low as Covid-19 surges

By Staff Reporter/AP Time of article published Jul 12, 2020

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Oxygen is already in low supply in hospitals at the new epicentre of the country’s outbreak, Gauteng province.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize this week said South Africa could run out of available hospital beds within the month. “The storm that we have consistently warned South Africans about is now arriving,” he told lawmakers.

A nurse at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital - the third largest hospital in the world with more than 3000 beds - painted a bleak picture, saying new patients with the virus are now being admitted into ordinary wards as the Covid-19 ones are full.

The continent has over 523 000 confirmed virus cases after passing the half-million milestone last Wednesday. But shortages in testing materials mean the true number is unknown.

On Sunday night President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a tightening of certain regulations governing the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including the reintroduction of the ban on the sale and distribution of alcohol with immediate effect. A nighttime curfew has also been reinstated.

The president also announced the procurement of additional ventilators.

"We have secured 1 700 additional ventilators, and companies in South Africa are in the process of producing another 12 000 ventilation devices for delivery between the end of July and the end of August," Ramaphosa said.

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za  

Sunday Independent / AP

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