The daily Covid-19 case numbers in Gauteng, South Africa, are exceeding those seen during the previous two waves as the province suffers a ‘tsunami’ of Covid-19 cases in this third wave. The Premier has announced that from next week those between the ages of 50 and 59 will also be able to be vaccinated (the current age limit is 60 and over).
Premier David Makhura said: “Next week we are going to start with those in the age category of 50 to 59-years old. As we do these other categories, we’re also going to be moving to those in their 40s.”
On Monday Makhura warned that “our province is under fire” and “burning with Coronavirus”.
Dr Michelle Groome, the NICD’s Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, warns that throughout South Africa “the sharp rise in the reported daily COVID-19 cases is cause for concern, especially in the Gauteng Province where daily case numbers are exceeding those seen during the previous two waves.”
On top of the rising cases, the province is suffering a shortage of hospital beds and staff. Earlier this week 60 healthcare workers from the SA National Defence Force were deployed to help, and the Premier announced today that parts of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (formerly the Joburg Gen) will be reopened, starting with the Cancer unit on Monday 28 June.
According to Makhura, sections 1 and 2 of the hospital are structurally safe, as well as parts of sections 3 and 5, but section 4 is severely fire-damaged following a fire at the hospital in April.
Makhura said the decision to re-open was taken yesterday, adding: “Charlotte Maxeke Academic is one of the top institutions in the province. Its closure has had a severe impact on our health system. There has been a terrible delay in reopening the hospital, which is completely unacceptable. Anymore delays will cause severe risk.”
The DA’s Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health Jack Bloome welcomed the re-opening, but said: “I hope that the hospital’s ICU beds are made functional as soon as possible as they are desperately needed to save lives as a tsunami of Covid-19 cases flood Gauteng hospitals. Questions remain as to why the hospital could not have been opened earlier, but I am immensely relieved that a way has been found to enable the hospital to save lives during this terrible epidemic.”
South Africa recorded the highest ever single-day spike since the start of the third wave, on Wednesday, with 17 493 COVID-19 cases.
According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), of the latest infections, 10 806 were detected in Gauteng (62%), followed by 1 778 in the Western Cape (10%).
The NICD said the increase in the 24 hours brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 1 861 065, representing a 24.9% positivity rate.
Meanwhile,166 patients succumbed to respiratory disease, pushing the death toll to 59 258.
There were also 622 hospital admissions in the past 24 hours.
This means there are now 10 497 patients who are receiving treatment at various healthcare institutions out of the 130 416 active cases.
“Ultimately, it is up to each one of us to play our role to reduce the spread of the virus by limiting our interaction with others, as much as possible, during this time,” said Dr Groome.
NICD Acting Executive Director, Professor Adrian Puren, pleaded: “It is critical to managing our risks and the risk to others, especially the elderly by limiting contact with others and avoiding gatherings with those who are not part of our safe bubble.”
Globally, as of 23 June 2021, there have been 178 837 204 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3 880 450 deaths, reported to the World Health Organisation.
Sources: NICD, SAnews.gov.za, Gauteng Province, SAPeople