'We are still facing the storm': Mkhize maps out ventilators, field beds for expected Covid-19 peak

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Photo by Christiaan du Plessis
  • The first 20 out of 1 000 ventilators donated from the US have been installed at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.
  • The next donation of ventilators will be used in facilities in the Western Cape.
  • On Friday, the country recorded 43 434 positive cases, 908 deaths and 23 088 recoveries. 

The donation of ventilators from the US government is just one step in a plan to treat rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Saturday.

The first 20 ventilators, which will form part of a total donation of 1 000 from the US government, have been installed at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.

At a ceremony and demonstration of the ventilators at the Soweto hospital, Mkhize said more diagnostic tests were being sourced and the provisions of additional field beds were ongoing across the country.

He added that the health department anticipated a future shortage of oxygen and it was putting in place measures to prevent this.

Mkhize stressed that while lockdown regulations eased, the infection rate was still increasing.

"We are still facing the storm," he said.

He added that the next donation of ventilators would be used in facilities in the Western Cape, which has more than 60% of the positive Covid-19 cases in the country.

READ | First 20 US-donated ventilators installed at Baragwanath hospital in Soweto

On Friday, the country recorded 43 434 positive cases. There have been 908 deaths and 23 088 recoveries. So far, 850 871 tests have been conducted.

At the ceremony, US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks said South Africa was the first country to receive ventilator donations from the United States Agency for International Development.

The ventilator units are valued at $14m (R230m), with the accompanying equipment, service plans, and shipping amounting to more than $20m (R330m). 

The ventilators are expected to assist with the treatment of Covid-19 cases in which patients are in a critical or unstable condition.

They form the first line of defence against the coronavirus, said Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku.

Currently, the hospital has just over 200 beds dedicated to the Covid-19 response, Masuku said.

The hospital is expected to see a 500-bed increase, Premier of Gauteng David Makhura added at the ceremony.

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