While the Gauteng government is steering itself to a high in coronavirus infections, residents are being urged to do their part to help slow the spread of the disease and save lives.
The request comes from Health MEC Bandile Masuku, who also said on Monday that the provincial coronavirus command board has asked the national command board for stricter implementation of the current containment measures. The increase in coronavirus infections in Gauteng is bringing it closer to being the focal point of the viral disease in South Africa.
“The plan (for stricter application) is underway and it also depends on how the public contributes to slow down the transfer,” Masuku says.
The Gauteng Department of Health said on Monday that on July 5, there were 63,404 confirmed coronavirus cases with 18,585 people recovering and 353 deaths.
The Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane metro areas have the most cases with 30 404, 14 080 and 10 074 cases respectively. In Johannesburg, 170 people have already died, 67 in Ekurhuleni and 44 in Tshwane.
A total of 2,553 people have already been admitted to state and private hospitals.
The measures requested by Gauteng from the National Command Council include an evening clock rule and stricter regulation of liquor sales.
Masuku said Gauteng did not ask for the reinstatement of level 5 restrictions. “We suggested that we have to set an evening bell again to restrict people’s movements at specific times. We also want crowd control measures to be put in place and tightened, as some of the larger outbreaks can be attributed to gatherings. “
As far as stricter measures for liquor sales are concerned, Masuku says it will ease the burden on emergency services.
Masuku said last month in the provincial legislature that by the time the infection rate reaches its peak between August and September, the demand for beds in intensive care units will be around 8,000 against the available 1 122.
Regarding ordinary hospital beds, 25,000 will be needed against the available 6,803.
According to Masuku, the province will need 3,042 nurses and currently has 784 nurses with intensive care unit training and a further 470 with intensive care unit experience.
Experts say a return to level 5 type restrictions is not desirable. Prof. Susan Goldstein, a public health specialist at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), says the government must now focus its attention on informing residents about the need for preventative measures such as masks and maintaining a healthy distance.
“Overall restraints are not an option. I don’t think it works in terms of where the larger outbreak area is, people simply can’t meet it. I think there should be a huge campaign now about the importance of wearing masks and maintaining a healthy distance. It will only work if people understand what to do and how to do it, ”Goldstein says.
“Forcing people is not possible. You can’t stand on every street corner and prevent kids from playing football, it’s impossible. “
Prof. Shabir Madhi, vaccine expert at Wits, agrees with Goldstein’s point of view and believes that a total restriction would be futile and postpone the outbreak of the outbreak by no more than two to three weeks.
“What we need to do now is to delay the transmission of the virus. We have been unsuccessful so far because the majority of people do not heed prevention measures such as face masks, a healthy distance and constriction, ”says Madhi.