Covid-19: Netcare's Gauteng hospitals' high admission rates due to Delta variant

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A healthcare worker get vaccinated at the Netcare Milpark Vaccination Site in Johannesburg.
A healthcare worker get vaccinated at the Netcare Milpark Vaccination Site in Johannesburg.
Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images via Getty Images
  • The high rate of admissions to Gauteng hospitals has been blamed on the Delta variant. 
  • The variant is responsible for 75% of sampled cases at the end of June. 
  • Delta is up to 60% more transmissible than the Beta variant which was dominant during the second wave. 

The Netcare hospital group has blamed the Delta variant for the increasing the number of hospitalisations at its facilities in Gauteng. 

Hospitals in Gauteng, which is the epicentre of Covid-19 infections, have been buckling under pressure since the start of the third wave.  

On Wednesday, Dr Richard Friedland, Netcare's chief executive officer, said the surge in Covid-19 cases and high admission rates at Netcare's hospitals in Gauteng were because of the emergence of the Delta variant in the country. 

He added that initial modelling indicated the third wave would have a lower transmission rate than the second wave but might last longer.

READ | Level 4: Schools to close, leisure travel to Gauteng banned

Friedland said this was the case until the first week of June. 

Cases started rising exponentially on 15 June, he added.

"Since then, it has been increasing rapidly - far exceeding the peak of both the first and second waves in Gauteng. Data released on Tuesday, 29 June 2021, confirms that the Delta variant was responsible for 53% of cases sampled in early June and 75% towards the end of June."

Friedland said the Delta variant was approximately 50 to 60% more transmissible than the Beta variant, which was responsible for the second wave in South Africa. 

READ | Lockdown: Public schools to reopen a week earlier because of early closure

Netcare currently has 2 600 Covid-19 patients across its hospitals in Gauteng. This is 45% higher than the 1 792 patients at the peak of the second wave and almost 100% higher than the 1 377 patients admitted during the peak of the first wave in Gauteng.

"It also explains why we have seen whole families, school-going children, and younger people testing positive and why we have now seen the admission of patients in their in their twenties and thirties affected by the virus," Friedland added.

He said while the group welcomed the move to Alert Level 4 lockdown restrictions, they were too late for Gauteng.  

"We … remain extremely concerned about the current situation in densely populated Gauteng, and while these restrictions may have come too late to flatten the curve in the province, it will certainly lessen the number of infections and admissions to hospitals."  

Friedland added because of the high transmission rate of the variant, it was important for people to follow non-pharmaceutical interventions. 

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