Covid-19: We have to fight off Gauteng’s third wave - David Makhura
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Pretoria - Even though Gauteng hospitals are ready to face the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Premier David Makhura has urged residents to abide by the safety protocols as the province was definitely in the midst of a new wave.
Makhura was speaking at the opening of the Anglo Gold Ashanti Hospital in Carletonville on Friday, as part of the province’s bid to put the final touches to its artillery against the third wave.
The premier said talks about the third wave hitting the country were no longer just speculation for the people of the province, as Gauteng had now reached that stage.
He said they had picked up through the command council that between Monday and Friday last week the increases in new cases had doubled, to the extent that by mid-week the province was registering an average of 600 cases daily, which then jumped to more than 1 200 cases daily by the end of the week.
“We are not just talking about the third wave being possible any more because Gauteng has definitely arrived at the third wave, looking at the doubling numbers.
“The resurgence of the virus is happening at a rate that we can definitely say that as a province we are there. When you experience double the numbers every two days it is really dangerous… we must get the message out there that people must not think that Covid is gone.”
Notwithstanding this, Makhura said the province’s hospitals were indeed better prepared to handle the virus this time around when compared to the same period last year.
Among the improvements they were able to make in some instances through the use of alternative building technology was a 300-bed structure in Hammanskraal, as well as 500 beds at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.
Even though the province was still to complete the envisaged 300 additional beds at the Kopanong Provincial Hospital in Vereeniging, he said they were happy they had managed to install 150 out of 300 additional beds at the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, to help combat the resurgence.
In total, the province was said to have increased its bed capacity to 4 500 additional beds in the public sector alone to deal with the new wave.
Makhura said 5 200 new professionals had been employed to manage the additional beds.
However, these preparations would not be enough if Gauteng residents continued to ignore the safety protocols and attended superspreader events.
“If we continue as is, these numbers can be overrun, and we will ultimately find ourselves in a situation where we don’t have beds and have to treat people everywhere.
“We have prepared, but the people must help us because if there are to be parties and they think that Covid-19 is gone, we could end up in a situation like that of India.”
While urging people to avoid dangerous behaviour, he said it was equally important for the province to prioritise its vaccination efforts for the elderly above 60, which starts today, and reaching out to the remaining healthcare workers.
“We must ensure that we slow down the infection rate and roll out the vaccines in order to contain the virus, as it is only through containment that the province can focus on getting the economy going again because this pandemic is undermining our economic reconstruction and recovery plan,” Makhura said.
The acting executive director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Profesor Adrian Puren said while the entire country had not yet crossed the national threshold for a new wave, the trajectory was worrisome, “and should it continue its course, we would likely cross the threshold for a new wave in the coming weeks”. Puren said the Free State was experiencing a third wave of the pandemic, while Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, North West and Western Cape were showing increases.