Procuring more field hospital beds a top priority

Friday, July 10, 2020

As the number of COVID-19 patients continues to soar in Gauteng, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says his department is working around the clock to procure more field hospital beds.

Speaking in Pretoria on Friday, the Minister said in addition to the close to 2 000 procured beds for field hospitals, the department is adding a further 250 beds in all the health facilities to match up the daily admissions in Gauteng.

The department is also working to supply about 1 000 oxygen points at Nasrec field hospital.

The Minister, along with Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku, visited the Tshwane District Hospital earlier on Friday to monitor the level of preparedness at the facility as the province has become the country’s COVID-19 epicentre.

Mkhize said other measures included government receiving 20 000 ventilators from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) that will be distributed in various hospitals this month.

Also, local doctors have already started using dexamethasone to treat some patients, which the Minister says is readily available and easy to administer.

The Minister said a worrying trend was that hospital causality rooms have been overloaded since alcohol restrictions were relaxed under lockdown level 3. Research suggests that there has been a 200% increase in trauma patients in Intensive Care Units (ICUs).

“People come in with stab wounds, gunshots, some of those involved in accidents. We found that a good percentage of them have a higher level of alcohol content in their system. It’s not theory, but facts for us,” said the Minister.

South Africa reported a record of 13 674 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 238 339 infections. Meanwhile, Gauteng hit new highs in daily cases, with 6 531 additional infections in the last 24 hours, with a tally of 81 546 cases.

“The numbers are increasing; we are right in the storm,” he warned. He said the worst is far from over and predicted that KwaZulu-Natal will soon experience a surge in COVID-19 cases.  

“During the lockdown, we reduced a huge number of infections. On its own the lockdown could not stop person-to-person transmission, and therefore, we saw the numbers continue to increase.”

However, as more economic activities open up, the infections will go up.

“That number of increase, we’re going to see it more in the number of a couple of weeks because more activity now means more people are going to be exposed.”

However, he has assured the public that government is working on the containment of the spread of the virus.

“We have to co-exist with the virus and we need to learn new ways on how to cope. We take lessons from various countries and we need to ensure that everyone puts on a mask and everyone sanitises or wash their hands, implement cough etiquette as well as social distancing.”

Meanwhile, he has called for screening to continue in public spaces such as taxi ranks. 

Mkhize said these are the fundamentals to fight the pandemic.

“We can reduce the spread if we keep the behaviour that way and this is how we’re going to live our lives.” –

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