Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize is confident Gauteng has enough beds for COVID-19 patients who need to be hospitalised. He is, however, concerned about the backlog at the triage sections where people are screened.

The Minister visited the Doctor George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, outside Pretoria, to determine the hospital’s readiness as the number of infections increase in the province.

The hospital has currently admitted around 40 COVID-19 positive patients and has 110 beds dedicated to the pandemic.

The George Mukhari Academic Hospital will have an additional 300 beds for COVID-19 patients in the next two months once an additional building is completed. Minister Mkhize says when the COVID-19 peak hits, there will be enough beds.

“At the moment we have not reached our capacity in Gauteng. What we have are the delays in the triage simply because some people may take longer to be moved from the ward where it is observation to the ward where it is COVID-19 positive or COVID-19 negative. That’s why we’re creating these beds, we will have more beds to move ahead of the peak.”

In the video below, the Minister urges South Africans to adhere to safety protocols:

Quarantine sites 

The George Mukhari Academic Hospital is one of four academic hospitals in Gauteng. Each hospital is the centre of a cluster and is responsible for that area’s COVID-19 patients.

Mkhize says they are aware some hotels that have been identified as quarantine sites are not fully occupied.

“It’s difficult to have a stop-start arrangement that if we don’t have patients today. We then close off the hotels who have to be ready for service because we no longer know how many numbers we’re going to get. Once you start having 20, 30, 40 000 people who are positive, the numbers are going to increase in the quarantine site. So those beds are going to be used. The fact that they were not being used is because we have to be ready.”

Hospital beds 

Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku says they have formed a team to manage all the beds in the province.

“Like today we are told that here at George Mukhari they accepted patients that were meant to go to Mamelodi but they had to come here because there was space available. So the more we master the art of planning and running our beds nicely, we won’t feel much of the pressure.”

Oxygen supply 

Mkhize says although the current supply of oxygen at medical facilities is less than what would be needed during the peak of the pandemic, they are in discussions with the oxygen suppliers to increase production and to divert oxygen from industrial to health use.

Out-patients 

Meanwhile, elderly patients at George Mukhari Hospital say they fear for their safety and lives.

The hospital’s waiting areas are congested with no social distancing and not everyone gets sanitised. Patients are complaining about slow service.

In the video below, patients say they wait hours before they are attended to: