Covid-19: Gauteng prepares for 'worst-case scenario' by adding more hospital beds, wards

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President Cyril Ramaphosa on a walkabout at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg accompanied by Gauteng Premier David Makhura. (GCIS)
President Cyril Ramaphosa on a walkabout at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg accompanied by Gauteng Premier David Makhura. (GCIS)

Due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Gauteng and the winter season fast approaching, the provincial government has added more hospital beds and wards in a bid to be prepared for the "worst-case scenario" during the pandemic.

"We are preparing for the worst-case scenario and we are leaving nothing to chance. We are mindful of the potential impact of increased demand for health facilities and we are working tirelessly to be ready for any eventuality," MEC for infrastructure development and property development Tasneem Motara said in a statement on Wednesday.

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To date, the MEC has inspected eight construction sites, which have special Covid-19 quarantine wards in various health facilities across the province, in anticipation of the expected severe cases needing hospitalisation and self-quarantine.

According to the department, this comes as the Gauteng Department of Health raised concerns that existing health facilities will not be able to cope with the expected demand.

More beds

Spokesperson for the infrastructure development and property development department Bongiwe Gambu said: "Gauteng Province intends providing a total of 3 056 beds within its portfolio of facilities, complemented by 1 126 beds from external entities.

"The construction of special Covid-19 wards within existing hospitals and clinics follows a decision by the Gauteng Provincial Command Council to undertake an emergency operation of building additional health infrastructure space to accommodate the growing number of patients affected by the global pandemic." 

WATCH | Ramaphosa visits Covid-19 quarantine facility in Joburg

According to the department, so far it has converted dozens of wards into intensive care units and isolation wards at the George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, as well as two wards at the Tshwane District Hospital in the Pretoria CBD.

Temporary quarantine facility

In addition, the department has noted that wards have been refurbished at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, and the Discoverers Community Health Centre in Florida.

Lastly, a 12-bed temporary quarantine facility has also been newly built at Mamelodi Hospital in Tshwane.

WATCH |  Inside Gauteng's makeshift Covid-19 isolation and quarantine site

This initiative also includes the construction of additional space at external sites, such as the 500-bed Nasrec facility in Johannesburg and a 175-bed at the mothballed AngloGold Ashanti Hospital in Carletonville, where refurbishment by the provincial government is currently under way.

"The acting head of department, Richard Makhumisani, said some of the projects will be ready for hand over by the middle of May 2020, while the rest will be accelerated in line with the required health infrastructure standards," Gambu concluded.

As of Tuesday, Gauteng had 1 661 cases of Covid-19, 1 026 recoveries and 14 deaths. Johannesburg remains the epicentre of the virus in the province, with 954 cases.

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