Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says the Department is working with speed to address some of the challenges facing health facilities as they continue to deal with the increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients.

Mkhize embarked on a walk-about at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital and Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria. The dire situation at health facilities made headlines last week when images of desperate COVID-19 patients being treated in tents at the hospitals were posted on social media.

Mkhize says besides the urgent recruitment of more nurses, the department is also considering transferring some of the COVID-19 patients from these facilities to a temporary COVID-19 health structure at Nasrec, west of Johannesburg.

“The arrangement is now well in place that if the hospital beds are filling up patients can be moved to Nasrec. There’s still enough space. The premier was here and a lot of work has been done. The issue of shortage of staff has been resolved and I’ve been told that about 33 nurses have been employed on an urgent basis. So we will be moving swiftly to match the numbers of people who have contracted COVID-19.”

Minister Zweli Mkhize visits Charlotte Maxeke Hospital: 

Mkhize says government is prioritising the availability of vaccines.  “On vaccines; I would like to say to the health workers, in particular, one of the most important things is the administration of the vaccine. Personal immunity is for the frontline workers. Herd immunity is reducing the risk of spreading the infection.”

He says they have signed up for the J&J vaccine.

The Minister says they will address the challenge of shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“We have visited Steve Biko. We even engaged the chairman and secretary of the union, on the shortage of PPE. They’ve got a system and it is working, of late it is not coming up as an issue. We would also like to thank the unions.”

Latest SA COVID-19 stats: