“The storm that we South Africans have warned about is now upon us.”
So Dr. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told MPs on Wednesday. He briefed Parliament on the effects of Covid-19 on the land.
Mkhize says South Africa will exceed its available capacity for hospital beds in the next four weeks, especially in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. “The pandemic will continue to peak as expected by mid-August. Although it looks like we will have fewer cases during the peak than initially feared, we will still have too few hospital beds to treat all the serious cases, ”Mkhize said.
According to Mkhize, by Tuesday South Africa had built 139 quarantine facilities with 12 532 beds nationwide. “Field hospitals have also been set up in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.”
Mkhize says 1.9 million Covid-19 tests have been carried out from March 1 to July 6, of which 11.8% tested positive for the virus. The Western Cape, Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal performed 82% of these tests. South Africa recorded 215,855 positive cases on Tuesday, of which 103,934 are currently ill. So far, 3 470 deaths have been recorded, indicating a death rate of 1.6%.
More and more health professionals are also testing positive. “By June 30, 4,821 health workers nationwide had tested positive for the coronavirus, most of which (2,473) were nurses. Most of the health workers tested positive (68%) are in the Western Cape.
Mkhize says various measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among health care workers, including training of these workers and providing proper protective clothing.
Treatment of Covid-19
Mkhize says physicians are adjusting Covid-19 treatment as new research comes to light. “In certain cases, the administration of the drug dexamethasone can prevent Covid-19 deaths. This medicine is available in the country and will be administered immediately to certain patients. Another remedy that can reduce the time that patients need to be hospitalized is remdesivir. According to Mkhize, it is currently used in clinical trials.
However, he says current treatment focuses mainly on supportive measures, such as the administration of oxygen. “Good planning and management is needed to ensure that everyone who needs oxygen has access to it. We are currently conducting a nationwide oxygen uptake in hospitals to try to determine where there is a shortage, ”says Mkhize.
DA MP Siviwe Gwarube has hacked Mkhize for his department’s lack of proper planning and the provision of resources to ensure provinces are properly equipped to handle the increase in Covid-19 numbers. “People are fuming over oxygen and provinces don’t have enough money to properly set up hospitals,” she says.