Gauteng Premier raises alarm over rising COVID-19 cases

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has warned that the province is in the midst of a COVID-19 crisis, as cases show no signs of slowing down.

The Premier was speaking at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital on Monday, where he welcomed medics from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The province is currently the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak and the SANDF has been roped in to offer a helping hand due to the shortage of staff.

“Our province is under fire. This place is burning with Coronavirus,” the Premier said.

On Monday, South Africa reported 9 160 new COVID-19 cases, of which 6 292 were logged in Gauteng.

“Everywhere in the province, the positivity rate is extremely high. The chances of getting infected are extremely high wherever you are,” Makhura warned, adding that families are infecting each other.

However, he assured Gauteng citizens that the provincial government will continue to fight the deadly virus.

“During the third wave, we need more support than we ever needed before.”

The infection rate and hospital admissions are doubling up almost every other day.

On Sunday, 1 470 people were receiving COVID-19 treatment at public hospitals and 3 448 in private health institutions in Gauteng.   

“I don’t want to send a message that is everything is okay. I must say to the people of the province that the house is on fire.”  

He appealed to the public to stop the spread by changing their behaviour, as government works around the clock to tackle the third wave.  

“Over the weekend I drove around, the restaurants are full, shops are packed, and it’s not just in the townships but in the suburbs as well.”

In townships, he said people are gathering in large numbers and even hosting soccer tournaments.

Staffing and beds

According to the Premier, private hospitals are also full.

“They’re facing similar challenges like additional staffing. I don’t want to send the message that we have a lot of beds. Every two days, beds are filling up.”

The provincial government has contracted over 5 000 healthcare workers to boost the staff component.

“That’s still not enough. We can do with more healthcare workers.”

While Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital is closed, Makhura said staff has been deployed to other health institutions across the province.

In addition, the province is looking at adding more beds in both public and private hospitals, as healthcare professionals work under “tremendous” pressure.

Alert level 3 lockdown

Gauteng has not seen the impact of the alert level 3 lockdown, as cases continue to soar. 

“The healthcare workers will do the best they can but this battle will not be won by healthcare workers alone.”

He said the Gauteng's Provincial Command Council was meeting on Tuesday and will recommend stricter restrictions. 

"I can't rule that out that we might need more restrictions. The pandemic is out of control. Something needs to be done," he said, adding that the final decision lies with the National Coronavirus Command Council. 

In the meantime, the province is monitoring the situation at schools as well, while also asking the public to wear their masks, including those who have received their COVID-19 vaccine. –