Mediclinic has warned that its health facilities and staff are taking a heavy strain in the Western Cape due to a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in areas such as the Garden Route.

This comes as the Department of Health identifies a new variant of the coronavirus in South Africa that is spreading very fast in many areas during the second surge.

In an effort to manage the growing demand for health services, Mediclinic says it has increased the number of available beds and deployed more resources to hotspots.

More nursing staff are also being trained for deployment to ICU and High Care Units. The hospital group says all elective and non-emergency operations have been cancelled or postponed.

On Saturday, the Health Department confirmed 10 939 new infections and 254 deaths. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 912 477, the total number of deaths is 24 539 and the total number of recoveries is 787 782.



Discovery of new COVID-19 variant in South Africa

On Friday, a panel of experts confirmed that a new variant of the coronavirus has been identified in South Africa and is spreading rapidly. The panel was hosted by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in an online briefing session.

The new variant started spreading in the Eastern Cape and has spread along the Garden Route before spreading to KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town, and other parts of the country.

The Ministerial Advisory Committee’s Professor Salim Abdool Karim says experts are checking how the new variant of the coronavirus in South Africa emerged.

Professor Karim says the virus was stable for a long time and scientists in South Africa are involved in the difficult task of trying to track how the virus changed to foster a new variant.

“How much of the virus has to change before we regard it as a change in the strain is something that has to be determined by the WHO. The level of reliability we are seeing now would not constitute a strain change. We are not dealing with strains at this time. We are just dealing with a variant so, if you wanna call it as it’s within the family,” says Karim.

New coronavirus variant identified | Dr Angelique Coetzee