Covid-19: Public hospitals coping, but private facilities under pressure - Kubayi-Ngubane

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SA's hospital are feeling the brunt of the Covid-19 third wave.
SA's hospital are feeling the brunt of the Covid-19 third wave.
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  • The acting health minister says public hospitals are coping with Covid-19 infections. 
  • She says most of the pressure is being felt at private hospitals. 
  • Private healthcare providers have warned people to adhere to regulations. 

Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says public hospitals in Gauteng are not under pressure as the third wave of Covid-19 rages through the province.

She says it is the private healthcare system which is buckling under the pressure. 

Speaking during a National Coronavirus Command Council press briefing on Tuesday, Kubayi-Ngubane said public hospitals in Gauteng, which is the epicentre of infections, were coping. 

"We are seeing a lot of pressure in the private sector. We can confirm that a meeting has happened between the government and the private sector to ensure overflow between facilities."

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She said there was now a team dedicated to monitoring which hospitals are able to admit Covid-19 patients. 

The Life Healthcare group said it had just over 1 400 Covid-19 in-patients countrywide last Monday, an increase from less than 200 cases two months ago.

Peter Wharton-Hood, chief executive of the hospital group, said: "Sixty percent of the admissions are in Gauteng, with 800 new cases – this is considerably more than the 600 and 700 cases at the peak of wave one and two respectively."

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Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare hospitals, said there was an "unprecedented demand to provide hospital care for Covid-19 positive patients".

On Saturday, he said, they had to transfer two Gauteng patients to KwaZulu-Natal for medical attention.

"We have, throughout the third wave, cautioned South Africans regarding the severity of the spread in Gauteng and appealed to them to take Covid-19 extremely seriously and be more cautious than ever," Du Plessis said. 

Dr Gerrit de Villiers, the chief clinical officer of Mediclinic Southern Africa, confirmed a strong demand for hospital beds during the current third wave, felt most notably in Gauteng.

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"We are also seeing noted increases in demand for care in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Western Cape," he said.

"Hospital bed capacity remains fluid and this dynamic situation is continuously monitored and addressed."

Kubayi-Ngubane said there were no immediate plans to reopen field hospitals in Gauteng to assist with the infection rates. 

She said the Nasrec field hospital was decommissioned because it was underused, and the province could not justify the cost. 

The Gauteng health department said on Friday it was considering reopening Nasrec field hospital, Health24 reported.

The minister said Gauteng has additional beds at Anglo Ashanti Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Jubilee District Hospital and Bronkhorstspruit Hospital.  

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