Ward dedicated to Covid-19 patients has grown to more than 7 wards in 10-14 days - trauma surgeon

Professor Steve Moeng, Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital
Professor Steve Moeng, Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital
Supplied: Gauteng government
  • Trauma units are feeling the pressure as the Covid-19 load grows.
  • This comes as the province is expected to reach 120 000 cases by the end of July and 300 000 by the end of August.
  • Premier David Makhura to make representations to National Coronavirus Command Council on Saturday regarding harsher restrictions.

A Director of Trauma Surgery at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital serving on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19 in Gauteng says that in the past two weeks, one ward dedicated to patients under investigation (PUIs) and Covid-19 patients has grown to more than seven wards.

"The one concept we have to get is that the Covid-19 load is here, at Charlotte Maxeke [for example] we had found ourselves from mid-March to mid-April coping with one ward dealing with PUI's and Covid-19," Professor Steve Moeng explained at a virtual briefing on Thursday.

"In the past 10 to 14 days, we have grown from that one ward to more than seven dedicated wards to PUI's and Covid-19 patients," he added.

Moeng was painting a picture of one of the trauma units in the province ahead of the Covid-19 storm expected over the next few weeks on a health system that is "already feeling the pressure".

As of Thursday, 2 July 2020 - the densely populated province has recorded 45 944 cases, with 12 957 recoveries and 244 deaths.

The majority of cases in the province are in Johannesburg with 22 388, followed by Ekurhuleni with 9 845 and Tshwane with 7 235.

In addition, Sedibeng has recorded 1 768 cases, the West Rand has 2 902 and 1 805 cases are unallocated.

These are the numbers ahead of the "storm" in the province which is set to see 120 000 cases by the end of July and 300 000 by the end of August, according to the Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku.

READ | Covid-19: 'It'll be overcrowded in hospitals' - Gauteng MEC predicts 300 000 cases by end of August

Moeng cautioned, however, that some of the trauma incidents coming into hospitals are preventable and if there is adherence by residents of Gauteng it could lighten the load for healthcare workers.

"This trauma is preventable as it is related to us; how we drive, and unfortunately it is related to alcohol.

"Again, we are asking that for us to be able to work with this load and shift some of our healthcare workers to assist with Covid-19, it would be helpful that if what is preventable is given attention. I'm afraid alcohol contributes to trauma and what we are seeing is preventable," he explained.

This comes after the country moved to Level 3 lockdown - of the risk-adjusted strategy - on 1 June which allowed for the sale of alcohol during specific hours and days, while cigarettes remain prohibited.

Following the sentiments of Moeng, Premier David Makhura said the Gauteng government would be making recommendations to the National Coronavirus Command Council following a provincial EXCO meeting regarding "harsher restrictions".

He added that it was also "too early to tell" when probed on whether the province would return to Level 5 of the lockdown.

"Some of them may include issues pertaining to alcohol as you have heard Professor Moeng saying what alcohol has done to our trauma units, as the provincial government we cannot ban or suspend the sale of alcohol but the regulation of alcohol is firmly in our power," he said.

"The situation is not normal, we cannot proceed as if it is normal - it is serious and warrants a risk-adjusted approach and where the risk increases, we need a comprehensive response to this," he added.

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