Amid increasing Covid-19 cases, the Gauteng health dept says the 'Nasrec option' is being discussed

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  • Gauteng health department says the option of using the Nasrec field hospital is being discussed
  • Almost 6 000 people are currently hospitalised for Covid-19 in the province
  • Department plans on hiring 5 400 healthcare workers for the third wave

The Gauteng health department said on Friday that it is reconsidering opening the Nasrec field hospital.

"The Nasrec option is being discussed. In dealing with a pandemic, all available options will always be considered, and if it is deemed a particular option will contribute to adequately deal with the situation, then it will be explored," Gauteng health head of communication Motalatale Modiba told Health24 late on Friday afternoon.

Last week the department told Health24 that there was no need to reopen the field hospital, as it had added almost 1 000 new beds in different facilities across the province.

The facility had been opened in April 2020 during the country's first wave of Covid-19 virus infections, but was decommissioned earlier this year.

On Friday night, latest statistics showed that there were 11 777 new cases in the province, out of a total of 18 762 in the country.

Bed space 

On Thursday, during the provincial weekly Covid-19 status update, Premier David Makhura admitted that there is a shortage of hospital beds in the province after recording almost 11 000 cases on Wednesday.

"Looking at these numbers, it's clear that the bed space is taken and clinicians are under pressure," Makhura said.

The premier said at the time that Gauteng government was looking at reactivating field hospitals so that no facility that can help save lives is overlooked. 

But Modiba said that the department still believes that the province has sufficient beds for the third wave - although a fully operational Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital is needed sooner rather than later.

"The pressure cannot be denied for the Covid-19 related healthcare needs. The biggest challenge has been the human resource component," he said.

Earlier on Friday, 5 991 people are in hospital for Covid-19 in Gauteng.

Modiba said that that the province is increasing its bed capacity with alternative building technology at different facilities. 

More doctors and nurses

The department said that it will hire 5 400 healthcare workers and is currently recruiting an additional 1 400 capacity to run the new facilities.

"We are fast-tracking the onboarding of additional resources and have now done the recruitment of health professionals (nurses) and clinicians (doctors) through walk-in appointments.

"We have agreements with private nursing agencies to also assist us with sourcing the needed skills. Solidarity Fund is also going to assist with the recruitment of additional nurses 250 nurses while the SANDF has also deployed their Medical Task Group comprising of doctors, nurses, paramedics and Occupational Health and Safety practitioners to assist," Modiba said.

The department cannot say what the patient to healthcare ratio in the province is.

"The doctor/nurse-patient ratio that applies to the Gauteng/RSA context in healthcare services will still need to be determined by the Public Health Specialists and Health Economists and further researched.

"Generally, it is known that the need for HR [human resource] capacity in healthcare remains a challenge in the country and in the developing world," he said. 

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

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