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Covid-19 Peak looms in Gauteng – Thousands expected to die

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Extra 2 171 beds will be added to public health facilities, province’s command council says.

It’s only a matter of weeks before Gauteng is deep in Covid-19 infections as the peak is predicted between August and September, with 11 000 ICU beds expected to be required.

But Covid-19 related deaths are likely to begin to spike in a week’s time to the highest levels in the country.

Gauteng recently took over the Western Cape as the leading province for Covid-19 infections, with 117 895 confirmed cases as of Thursday evening, increasing by 5 181 cases since Wednesday.

The Western Cape increased by 1 430 cases from 81 556 cases on Wednesday to 82 986 on Thursday evening. The only way to get through the wave of infections was to have a smooth-running hospital bed management system as the province only had a total of 8 730 acute and critical care/intensive car (ICU) beds in the public and private sector, Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku said on Thursday.

An extra 2 171 beds would be added to public health facilities, the province said in its latest weekly Gauteng command council briefing. Speaking as a guest in a webinar hosted by Daily Maverick,

Masuku said the system, which has a data-driven, 24-hour dashboard, would lessen panic as it would manage the flow of patients.

Covid-19 patients would be directed to any hospital which had available beds, based on a partnership between the private and public sector, he said.

“We have now evolved beyond the issue of a bed management team, which is daily monitoring of where the empty beds would be and how to direct traffic and flow of patients. It’s a dedicated system we need to put into place.

“It lessens the panic. When the [emergency services] people know they have to pick up a patient who is a Covid-19 suspect, they will know they need to go to a particular area.

“We have been learning a lot of models and making them better from the Western Cape.

“We have engaged with the team and officials in the Western Cape about preparation of hospitals and discussions on a private and public partnership.

“The more we master the bed management system, the easier it will be for us to deal with it.”

The MEC was confident that each bed would be fully equipped with the necessary oxygen supply which the province received from gas supplier Afrox.

Other related industries would be requested to redirect their oxygen supply to the province’s healthcare system.

Although the Western Cape was still leading the death toll with 2 514 deaths, Gauteng’s current toll of 853 deaths would soar in the coming week unless the province somehow found a treatment to lower mortality rate, said Wits School of Governance professor Alex van den Heever.

“In Gauteng, the curve is steep and we will see the deaths in a week from now which will rise to levels significantly higher than the Western Cape, unless in this period there is a treatment coming out.

“If it follows the Western Cape’s trend, the period of having three times the level of new infections will introduce three times the death rate with a 10-day lag.

“We had enough time to propose a prevention strategy but whatever is implemented is too weak for the strength of the pandemic. [Gauteng’s government] needed to be more vigorous,” Van den Heever said.

– Citizen

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