Gauteng faces COVID-19 nightmare

Gauteng currently has the worst COVID-19 infection rate in the country, and its lack of field hospitals and other support systems could see it overtaking the Western Cape in total cases.

This is according to Wits Univesity vaccinologist professor Shabir Madhi, who told the Sunday Times that within three weeks, Gauteng will match the Western Cape’s current case numbers.

Following that, Gauteng may potentially overtake the Western Cape to become the worst-affected province in South Africa.

While five quarantine sites have been built in the province, no field hospitals have been built and the shortage of beds is expected to reach 5,000 in two weeks, the report said.

This resource deficit and continuing rise in the number of cases could lead to a serious problem in terms of the treatment and management of infected residents.

Modelling data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) shows that the number of COVID-19-related deaths in Gauteng could triple every two weeks.

Hotspot areas in Gauteng include the Johannesburg inner city, Sandton, Soweto, Randburg, and various districts within Ekurhuleni.

Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni currently reflect the largest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, followed by Tshwane.

The number of recorded COVID-19 cases in South Africa rose to 131,800 on Saturday 27 June, an increase of 7,210 cases which is another record 24-hour high for the country.

The minister announced 73 new COVID-19 related deaths, taking the total up to 2,413, and a mortality rate of 1.8%, while recoveries increased to 67,094 which translates to a recovery rate of 50.9%.

Gauteng has 34,285 confirmed cases according to the latest data, as well as a total of 166 deaths – more than any other province except for the Western Cape.

Businesses reopening under advanced level 3

This record growth in COVID-19 cases comes as businesses and schools start to reopen under the advanced level 3 lockdown regulations.

The cabinet has decided to ease restrictions on a number of economic activities under this COVID-19 alert level, which includes the reopening of restaurants, hotels, and casinos.

The directive detailing these rules was published on 25 June and provides more details on the businesses which may reopen under the country’s advanced level 3 lockdown and the limitations which they will be subject to after they reopen.

The regulations describe the circumstances under which restaurants, casinos, cinemas, theatres, and a number of other new activities allowed to resume operation under the advanced lockdown rules will be allowed to reopen.

Other businesses that are allowed to reopen include theatres, sporting activities, museums, libraries, hairdressers, salons, and tattoo parlours.

It is interesting to note that exercise in groups of greater than four people is now expressly prohibited under the new regulations.

South African schools have also begun to reopen, albeit with strict limitations and hygiene protocols in places.

Cameras are installed in classrooms, dividers placed on desks, and surfaces covered with plastic, and students are instructed to maintain social distancing at all times.

Schools were allowed to reopen on 8 June for Grade 7 and Grade 12 students.

COVID-19 cases have been recorded at several schools in the past few weeks, however, some of which have had to be completely or partially closed again.

Now read: South African COVID-19 infections – Here are the latest hotspots in Joburg and Cape Town

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Gauteng faces COVID-19 nightmare