Gauteng Premier David Makhura says the number of people admitted in the province’s hospitals for coronavirus-related illnesses has doubled in the past week. This after Gauteng Health Department confirmed that the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane is facing difficulties in coping with an overflow of critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Images doing the rounds on social media depict a grim picture of patients using oxygen tanks while lying on beds outside the emergency entrance.

Speaking during a visit to the hospital today, Makhura said: β€œThe admission numbers in our hospitals have doubled everywhere in the last seven days everywhere. Whereas, towards the end of December, there were 100 patients and now they are ranging about 200 patients in various facilities.”

Roll out of COVID-19 vaccine

The Gauteng Premier says the provincial health sector is preparing for the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, once it arrives in the country.

Health Minister, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, recently announced that one-million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are due to arrive from India, which expected to be rolled out this January.

Makhura says, β€œThe infection rate is increasing. I am very happy that the Minister has announced that there is a speedy response to the procurement of the vaccine. As a province, we are already planning the rollout. We have a task team that is planning for the rollout of the vaccine starting with the health care workers and other front-line workers.”

Makhura says that the provincial government does not intend to call for hard lockdown restrictions due to the negative financial impact it has on livelihoods and businesses.

β€œWe are in the eye of the storm and we will not support lifting restrictions, but we will not call for the closure of the economy. We call on citizens to cooperate and make the measures work because we want the economy to be open. We will wait to hear what the President is going to say. We have decided that we will do a more detailed media briefing tomorrow because we are waiting for the President, as there have been a series of meetings. The President is going to speak first and we have been shifting our media briefing to speak after the President.”