- Gift of the Givers have set up a ward in a public hospital to ease overloaded public institutions.
- Gauteng is currently experiencing a third wave and doctors say they've never had to deal with so many Covid-19 infections all at once.
- South Africa is currently recording an average of about 20 000 cases a day and nursing active cases, cumulatively, of more than 10 times that, with more than 64 000 deaths recorded to date.
At an emergency Covid-19 ward run by a charity in southern Johannesburg, medics wheel gasping patients to their beds, rush from room to room with oxygen cylinders and pat the back of someone in the grip of a coughing fit.
The scenes in the converted community hall are a reminder of how badly South Africa has been hit by its third and most debilitating Covid-19 wave yet, as the infectious Delta variant surges through a mostly unvaccinated population.
Fatimah Lambat, the doctor in charge of the ward set up by Gift of the Givers to ease overloaded public hospitals said:
"It's very draining... patients are still phoning me from the community for help. And when we're full here, we still need to help them," she said. "We don't want them to be lost."
With South Africa recording an average of about 20 000 cases a day and nursing active cases, cumulatively, of more than 10 times that, Africa's most economically advanced nation has also been its worst hit by the virus, with 64 000 deaths.
A vaccination campaign has been slow, with just 4.2 million doses administered to a population of 60 million. Officials aim to reach a vaccination rate of 300 000 a day by the end of August.
Doctors say they have never had to deal with so many Covid-19 infections all at once. Hospitals in Johannesburg, where the latest wave started, are full.
For 79-year-old Catherine Naidoo, the most terrifying thing about falling gravely ill was knowing that so many had died.
"You don't know what lies ahead. You look at the news and see how people are passing away," the recovered Covid-19 patient said, lying on her back and adjusting her mask.
"It was the most frightening experience."
Behind another curtain, medics covered head-to-toe in protective gear adjusted the drip of a sleeping patient, while in another, a medic was getting a patient to do some exercises before getting her to blow into a tube to test her lungs.
President Cyril Ramaphosa extended Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday for another 14 days, including a ban on gatherings, a curfew from 21:00 to 04:00 and a nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol.
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