Gauteng increases bed capacity as hospitalisation rate increases

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The number of people hospitalised due to COVID-19 in the country is likely to increase as more provinces enter the third wave – putting a strain on bed capacity. Research scientists say the current hospitalisation rate is increasing with Gauteng at 30%, week on week. Gauteng, which accounts for over 50% of the country’s COVID-19 infection rate, has increased bed capacity at its hospitals despite the closure of Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke hospital.

Gauteng is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases as well as hospital admissions, and this is beginning to have an impact on bed capacity.

The Bheki Mlangeni District hospital in Soweto is already feeling the pressure.

The hospital’s CEO Makabedi Makhetha says,” We have seen a spike in the number of COVID-19 patients that we are admitting. The hospital has got 67 beds dedicated strictly for COVID-19. Bheki Mlangeni being not so big, we are engaging with Bara [Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital] to say can we send our less acute patients so that we can take care of the acute patients. We are having something we call the PUI [Patient Under Investigation] wards where we keep the patients who are under investigation – then once they test positive then we transfer them to the COVID-19 wards.”

The hospital’s location within Soweto, one of the City of Johannesburg’s COVID-19 hotspots, puts it under tremendous pressure. From April last year, 325 staffers have tested positive, while 320 have recovered, one died. The hospital has since then treated 858 COVID-19 patients.

Admission numbers on the rise

Senior Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Ridhwaan Suliman says the number of new hospital admissions is on the rise, not only in Gauteng but across the country.

“I mean in that province the new admissions have increased by just over 30% week on week. Other provinces that are showing notable signs of increase in hospitalisation include Mpumalanga, up 13% but also Limpopo and Eastern Cape whilst the numbers are low, but the number of new admissions being reported is on the increase.”

Unpacking COVID-19 numbers with Dr Suliman:

Enough beds to deal with influx

And with Gauteng in the grip of a third wave, and the Charlotte Maxeke Academic hospital still closed due to a fire outbreak, authorities are adamant that there are enough beds to deal with the influx.

Acting HOD in the Gauteng Health Department Lesiba Malotana says, “Between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd wave, the province continuously increased the number of beds we have in the system. Of course, we are aware that we have lost Charlotte Maxeke currently. However, there are beds that we have created in the system, Anglo Ashanti, Bronkhorstspruit, the ABT in Jubilee and Bara have come into play. The total number of beds created in the province assures us of the capacity we have, and we remain confident in how we are going to be managing the 3rd wave.”

The latest national COVID-19 figures show that there were 3 285 new cases reported in the last 24 hours. The recovery rate stands at 93%. Eighty-nine people died in the last 24 hours bringing the tally to 57 063.

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