Gauteng Premier David Makhura says the next two weeks will be very difficult as the number of people infected with COVID-19 continues to rise daily.
Speaking at a roadblock at the Grasmere Toll Plaza, south of Johannesburg, Makhura says authorities have been encouraging motorists to comply with health protocols to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The roadblocks on major highways are targeting people returning from other provinces following the festive holidays. South Africa has recorded over 1.1 million coronavirus cases with Gauteng accounting for close to 300 000 cases.
Gauteng is bracing itself for a massive increase in the number of daily COVID-19 infections, authorities have opted to also use roadblocks to screen people, and those not feeling well are encouraged to test at the temporary testing stations that have been set up on site.
Makhura says a majority of motorists are complying with the regulations, but warned against complacency as the second wave continues to bite.
“We’re already feeling it, the daily cases of 4 000, we’ve exceeded that already. We also have exceeded 3 000 hospital admissions already. Those are indications that the situation in the province is going to be difficult, we have seen also with the number of people who are succumbing to COVID-19. The number is increasing on a daily basis. We want to say to the people of our province who are returning here, we want to call on them to comply with all the health measures,” says Makhura.
He says specialists have advised that a spike in COVID-19 cases is likely as people return to Gauteng in early January after the holidays. And as concerns mount over the province’s capacity to deal with another surge in COVID-19 cases, Makhura says they’re working on increasing capacity so that healthcare facilities are not overwhelmed.
Makhura says, “We’re also looking at the beds availability, we’re working with the private sector. The difference between now and the first wave is that we have more beds now, than we had during the first wave. We’ve also increased the number of staff and health workers. But we know that as the province in the next two weeks, we’re going to go through a difficult time. Now that everybody is back from all over the country, the healthcare system will feel the pressure and we want to appeal again to the people of our province, let us cooperate, let us collaborate, let us comply because this will help our healthcare system not to be overloaded.”
Newly-appointed Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi says capacity is also being increased at the Nasrec field hospital.
Mokgethi says, “Remember all our patients that go to hospital, we take them as positive, while they’re still waiting for their results, they’re occupying our beds. We’ve taken a decision that we will be admitting them to Nasrec, they’ll be under the supervision of Bara. The clinicians there will be able to go and check the patients there. Currently at Nasrec, we’ve got about seven Cuban doctors, four working at night and three working during the day. We’re creating more capacity to make sure that the more we admit more patients, we do have capacity to admit them – in terms of PPE, yes we do have enough PPEs.
The country has already recorded more than 29 000 COVID-19 deaths, with Gauteng accounting for over 5 700 fatalities.
Frontline workers and the most vulnerable are to receive the vaccine first:
Vaccine rollout debate
The continued surge in COVID-19 cases comes amid concerns over government’s vaccine rollout plan.
On Sunday, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that they are expediting the delivery of a vaccine and are pushing for a rollout in February.
He said a minimum of 67% of SA’s population will be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.