Wits University professor Alex van den Heever has warned that both private and public hospitals in Gauteng could be overwhelmed in the next two weeks.
Speaking on the Midday Report with Mandy Wiener, van den Heever said that the surge of cases in Gauteng means that the province’s strategy in addressing the spread of the virus has failed.
“We are seeing a surge in new infections [in Gauteng] that is very steep, it is not expected because we do have prevention strategies that were meant to be in place, and it is potentially indicative of the fact that our prevention strategies are not addressing the super spreading risks in many social spaces,” he said.
“We shouldn’t be seeing such a steep increase.”
“From March to now, we should have implemented a framework to attack the epidemic, but it looks like we’re failing.”
Van den Heever said South Africa would never have had the resources to cope with an uncontained COVID-19 pandemic, which is why lockdown measures were implemented nationwide.
He added that Gauteng’s approach has failed in containing cases to a manageable level, however, and health services are now in danger of being overwhelmed soon.
“I think that in Gauteng we have added very few additional beds to the system, so we are at risk of the health services being overwhelmed in the next two weeks.”
“That is entirely a consequence of not enough emphasis on the prevention side of the epidemic,” he said.
He said that the Gauteng provincial government must improve its COVID-19 prevention strategy, or it will be unable to cope with the rising number of cases.
“Our services are just not going to be able to cope, and I am really concerned that we will run out of space in both the public and private sector in the next few weeks.”
The Gauteng provincial health department has addressed the rising number of cases in the province, blaming the increase on the “blatant disregard” of lockdown regulations by the citizenry.
Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku said that the province was in discussions with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) about how it could more strictly enforce the advanced level 3 lockdown restrictions.
“What we agreed on as the executive council is to see how we are able to apply and enforce the regulations that will help us to reduce the rate of transmission,” he said.
“These regulations are the ones that are already applied but are not being respected by the community.”
Masuku said the biggest problem was the adherence to rules around public gatherings.
“People have defied that. People are deliberately and intentionally organising social events, parties, and weddings.”
“There are regulations that prohibit those types of interactions and we want to see those being enforced,” he said.
Mandy Wiener’s full interview with Professor Alex van den Heever is below.