Picture by Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture by Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Gauteng coronavirus bloodbath as province contributes to two thirds of the national Covid-19 daily infection rate

By Norman Cloete Time of article published Jun 26, 2021

Share this article:

Johannesburg - Gauteng is under fire.

The province is contributing two thirds of the national Covid-19 daily infection rate.

This is the dire picture painted by premier, David Makhura as Gauteng recorded the highest daily infection of 10 806 new cases. It is higher than the highest daily infections in both the first and second waves.

Makhura, at a Gauteng Provincial Command Council briefing, said the virus is everywhere in the province. The increase in hospital admissions continues to put strain on the health system, in both public and private sectors.

The Tshwane, Laudium, Pretoria CBD, Hercules and Danville sub-structure lead the race, insofar as infections in Gauteng are concerned. Roodepoort, Constantiakloof, Northgate and Florida lie in second place, with the JHB inner city and Joburg South coming in third. Gauteng leads the provincial race with KZN in second place and the Western Cape in third.

“Unless there is a drastic disruption in the current trend, we are heading for disaster. The surge in infections fuelled calls for a harder lockdown in the province. If the numbers continue to increase drastically, we will have no choice but to move to higher levels to curb the spread. Mobility remains a key contributor in the rising numbers,” said Makhura.

And it’s not just the public services taking strain. Netcare 911 spokesperson, Shawn Herbst said emergency services, particularly in Gauteng, are struggling to cope with the high demand of sick patients with Covid-19.

“Netcare 911 has relocated resources from other provinces and rerouted them to Gauteng to help relieve the pressure currently being experienced. All Netcare hospitals have seen a rise in admissions, throughout South Africa with many of them being Covid-19 or related illnesses,” he said.

Herbst, said on some days, their Emergency Operations Centre in Gauteng receives approximately seven hundred calls and other days as many as one and a half thousand.

Makhura said more than 430 000 contacts have been identified in Gauteng and 98% have been traced. Of these, just more than 80 000 were tested with 50% testing positive. Currently, 5 842 patients are in hospital, of which 1 488 are in ICU and High Care and 4 354 in the General Ward.

Acting Chief Operating Officer for Gauteng Health, Nomsa Mmope, said the pace of the implementation of the vaccination programme continues to be worrisome.

By June 23, 584 458 people had been vaccinated. More than 370 000 people who are 60 years and older have been vaccinated, which translates to only 28% of the targeted population of 1.3 million. There are now 195 vaccination sites, which includes 56 J&J sites especially for educators across Gauteng.

“We are stepping up our vaccination rollout programme. On Wednesday the government launched its mass vaccination drive for educators, staff and school governing body personnel. So far, 10 050 educators were vaccinated and we will increase our capacity as we open up more vaccination sites,” she said.

Close to 126 000 educators and broader education staff in the province are expected to get vaccinated during the course of the programme, except any person that contracted the coronavirus in the past 30 days. The same goes for any person who was vaccinated using another vaccine (Pfizer or using J&J under Sisonke) and any person who received the flu vaccine in the past 14 days should not be vaccinated.

“The vaccine provides the best chance of reducing new infections, severe illness, hospitalisation and death. We urge more residents who are 60 years and older to register for vaccination. The more people who get vaccinated, the more we will get closer to the end of the pandemic,” said Mmope.

To date, 4 642 learners and 2 321 educators have tested positive across Gauteng schools.

“We are calling for stricter, targeted and localised restrictions for the next two weeks. Although experts have advised that schools are contributing an insignificant amount in community transmissions, we are closely monitoring the situation. We continue to expand human resources and bed capacity. We are increasing rapid testing to clear Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and we have enhanced our tracking and tracing efforts. The various sectors of the economy are recovering well, and slowing down the economy, is not an option. We continue to perform a balancing act of saving lives and livelihoods,” she added.

The Gauteng government also welcomed the deployment of health personnel from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) who are deployed in the province to boost efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Law enforcement operations have been upped to ensure compliance with Covid-19 protocols in business premises, gatherings, public transport facilities and schools.

Mmope said the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital is one of the top institutions in the province and its closure had a severe impact on the health system.

“There has been a terrible delay in reopening the hospital, which is completely unacceptable. Any more delays will cause severe health risks to the population of the province because the hospital occupies the centre-stage in dealing with Covid-19 and in providing specialised health services in support of several hospitals and primary health care facilities,” she said.

This week, the Executive Council, in a special meeting, took a decision to give the go-ahead to the hospital management to reopen parts of the hospital that were not structurally affected by the fire. The oncology building is ready to open, and starting Monday, the first batch of new patients will be received.

“We appeal to communities to wear masks, keep a safe physical distance and wash hands regularly or use a hand sanitiser. Avoid closed spaces, crowded spaces and close-contact settings where possible.” she pleaded.

The Saturday Star

Share this article: