Gauteng records highest number of new daily Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions skyrocket

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A nurse assists a patient suffering from coronavirus disease in ICU inside a hospital in Amman, Jordan. Photo: Reuters/Alaa Al Sukhni/File
A nurse assists a patient suffering from coronavirus disease in ICU inside a hospital in Amman, Jordan. Photo: Reuters/Alaa Al Sukhni/File

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Gauteng is in a precarious situation with 4 678 patients hospitalised with Covid-19. Of these, 1 007 are in the intensive care unit.

As of Wednesday, the inland province accounts for 53.6% of the country’s 8 727 Covid-19 hospital admissions.

According to national data, as of June 16, 294 Covid-19 patients in Gauteng are in high care and the remaining 3 377 are being treated in the general ward.

covid
Covid-19 data for Gauteng from NICD.

Most of the patients – 3 433 – are being treated at private hospitals and the remaining 1 245 at public hospitals.

Ridhwaan Suliman, senior researcher at the CSIR, says the epidemic in Gauteng is entering uncharted territory, with the third wave now exceeding the first and second wave peaks and still rising.

South Africa was moved to lockdown level 3 on Tuesday amid a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases. Gauteng continues to drive the third wave and accounts for nearly two-thirds of the new infections recorded over the past week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his nation address on Tuesday.

The latest data reveal that a total of 481 Covid-19 patients in Gauteng are currently ventilated, with 813 on oxygen.

Healthcare workers account for 2% of national hospital admissions.

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Covid-19 data from the NCID on June 16.

Gauteng recorded its highest ever number of new cases on Wednesday with 7 859 infections. A total of 13 246 new cases were recorded nationwide. A total of 60 995 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours. This represents a 21.7% positivity rate.


Hospitals at capacity

Ramaphosa pointed out that private hospitals in the province were reporting being near capacity.

While the Gauteng health department has opened a 500-bed Covid-19 facility at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, concerns remain that the province is ill-equipped to deal with the rising number of infections.

Meanwhile, Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital remains closed since being gutted by a fire in April. At the tail-end of the second wave, the hospital had five Covid-19 wards, each accommodating between 20 and 24 patients.

The Covid-19 facility at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has strict admission criteria and is not suitable for unstable patients.

Referring doctors are required to complete a form which excludes Covid-19 patients with severe disease with evidence of respiratory failure; severe non-Covid medical disease necessitating acute management; patients requiring specialist investigation or work-up; surgical patients and psychiatric patients.

Doctors tell City Press that this is largely due to the location of the ABT facility in relation to surgical and radiology wards.

They explain that the challenge lies in transferring an unstable patient on a gurney across the hospital premises from the ABT facility to the main hospital building.

The Bara500 facility was identified as a replacement for the Nasrec field hospital which accommodated more than 1 000 patients.

It is fully equipped with ventilators and comprises 20 wards, a reception and triage area. Each ward has its own ventilation unit and it also includes isolation units. The hospital also has back-up power solutions that use batteries and diesel generators, and uses a large bulk oxygen reticulation infrastructure.

It took Enza Construction eight months to complete the facility at a reported cost of R550 million.

Screenshot of the form doctors have to use to refer patients to the Bara500 facility:

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Screengrab from doctor's Google form.

 

Regulation changes

Under lockdown level 3, alcohol sales from retail outlets have been restricted to between Monday and Thursday from 10am to 6pm.

To observe the new curfew, on-site consumption is not allowed at licensed establishments after 9pm.

Public places, including bars and restaurants, need to close by 9pm.

Curfew has been amended and will be in place between 10pm and 4am.

Gatherings have been limited to no more than 50 people inside and 100 outside with adequate social distancing measures.

Funerals continue to be capped at two hours with no night vigils or post-funeral gatherings allowed.


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