Covid-19: Gauteng hospitals overwhelmed by 'sheer numbers', says Netcare CEO - report

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An ambulance drops a patient at Chris Baragwanath Hospital  Soweto.
An ambulance drops a patient at Chris Baragwanath Hospital Soweto.
(Photo by Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle)
  • Gauteng hospitals are becoming overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases.
  • The Western Cape could face the same surge in numbers within a few weeks.
  • Netcare Group CEO Dr Richard Friedland has called for tighter restrictions to reduce infections.

As hospitals fast become overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases, the Western Cape could face the same "unprecedented surge" within three to four weeks, according to Dr Richard Friedland, Group CEO of Netcare.

Speaking during an interview on The Money Show with Bruce Whitfield, Friedland said Gauteng faced an unprecedented surge in numbers that was overwhelming the healthcare system.

"We were always concerned that the most populous province would face a surge of this nature, and we're now seeing it," he said.

On Monday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the province could face stricter Covid-19 restrictions as it moves towards an expected Covid-19 third wave peak in two weeks. He described the pandemic as out of control, saying the provincial command council would be meeting on Tuesday to discuss tighter restrictions.

Last week, Gauteng recorded the highest peak in numbers, higher than those recorded in the first and second waves, and the trajectory showed no signs of slowing.

On Sunday, Gauteng recorded 8 640 new cases – the highest provincial number ever recorded.

Sheer numbers 'overwhelming'

"[This is] demonstrating that absent Level 5 lockdown, we may not see the end of this surge for a long time," Friedland said.

The sheer volume of cases was putting a strain on the healthcare system despite their best preparations, Friedland said.

He said the province had 1 800 critical care beds in the private sector, of which the hospital group held around 50%.

There was an urgent demand for these critical care beds in the province, Friedland said.

"We are incredibly well prepared, but the sheer numbers… are overwhelming facilities," he said.

Friedland added that the group's forecasts estimated that the Western Cape could be three to four weeks behind Gauteng's numbers. He said the Western Cape could face a similar surge.

"If the government is not going to lock down, we need to self-regulate," Friedland said.

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