Major healthcare worker shortages – R460-million Gauteng hospital stands empty

A hospital funded by the provincial government to the tune of R460 million stands empty in Gauteng despite being handed over to Gauteng’s Health Department last month, reports City Press.

This is reportedly due to a shortage of healthcare workers available to make use of this new facility.

City Press also highlights that another R550 million COVID-19 facility – at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital – is operating at a fraction of its capacity due to staff shortages.

Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana told City press that only 92 of the 500 available beds at this facility are in use.

This staff shortage comes at a time when Gauteng is desperate for COVID-19 beds, with SA Medical Association chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee claiming in a 702 radio interview that bed shortages are also due to these staff shortages.

“We said the moratorium on posts in the public sector must be lifted. Nothing was done. It was not lifted,” said Coetzee.

Level 3 in effect

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday that South Africa has entered an adjusted level 3 lockdown, which increased the national curfew and restricted alcohol sales.

Cyril Ramaphosa South African President
President Cyril Ramaphosa

Alcohol sales for off-site consumption is now only allowed between 10:00 and 18:00 from Monday to Thursday, while the curfew spans 22:00 to 04:00.

Other key changes included:

  • Public places, including restaurants and bars, must close by 21:00.
  • Gatherings are limited to 50 people inside, or 100 people outside – with social distancing mandatory.
  • Masks remain mandatory in public places.

“The massive surge in new infections means that we must once again tighten restrictions on the movements of persons and gatherings,” Ramaphosa said.

“We need to enforce compliance more rigorously and we need to take firmer action against those that do not adhere to the regulations that save our lives.”

COVID-19 active case numbers have soared in recent days, with new daily active cases reaching 13,575 on Saturday.

Over half of these new cases – 8,403 – are situated in Gauteng, while the Western Cape had the second most new daily cases with 1,541.

In total, there are currently 110,725 active cases in South Africa, with testing yielding a 23.2% positivity rate.

Vaccine issues

South Africa was dealt a major blow on 11 June when a ruling by the US Food and Drug Administration found that safety protocols were not strictly adhered to by a Johnson & Johnson factory.

This meant that around 60 million doses of the company’s vaccine were unusable.

Two million of these doses were sitting in a warehouse in Gqeberha, said acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

In total, government has ordered over 31 million units of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine.

Mmamoloko Tryphosa Kubayi-Ngubane South African Minister of Tourism
Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

Now read: South Africa may be over-counting its Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses

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Major healthcare worker shortages – R460-million Gauteng hospital stands empty