Gauteng is experiencing a Covid-19 crisis with a record number of new cases, hospitals running beyond 100% capacity, and a shortage of staff to care for patients.
Yesterday, Gauteng reported 8,640 new Covid-19 cases, the second day in a row the province breached the 8,000 cases mark.
In the first wave, new daily cases in Gauteng peaked at 6,531, while daily cases during the second wave peaked at 6,969.
The third wave has a much steeper rise than the previous waves and has much higher confirmed daily cases.
Ridhwaan Suliman, a senior researcher at CSIR, said the test positivity rate and hospital admission are also rising.
He added that Gauteng accounts for 60% of all new Covid-19 cases in South Africa and that hospitals are getting overwhelmed.
“Right now, Gauteng is the epicentre of the pandemic in South Africa and has already surpassed the previous two peaks — and still rising,” he said.
Commenting on the rapid rise in cases in the province, Suliman said the country did not respond appropriately to limit the spread of the virus.
“We have been too late to respond. We have not used the tools in our toolbox at the right time to slow down the spread, monitor cluster outbreaks, and give clear communication to limit the spread,” he said.
The chart below shows the number of new daily Covid-19 cases in Gauteng since the outbreak started.
Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University, said Gauteng hospitals are running beyond 100% occupancy.
The situation is aggravated by the closure of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital and a lack of medical staff to care for patients.
Madhi said the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital Covid-19 facility has 500 beds ready, but only 100 are commissioned due to staffing shortages.
“Why build something if you can’t staff it? In the meantime, there are Covid cases that will spend up to 2 to 3 days on oxygen in chairs at Helen Joseph Hospital waiting for a bed,” he said.
Madhi laid the blame for the shortage of beds at the feet of the Gauteng Department of Health.
“The reason why we are in this situation blows my mind because we knew we were going to experience a resurgence,” he said.
“There should have been a contingency plan, but we seemingly did not put this plan in place.”
So severe is the crisis that the South African Medical Research Council called on the government to take urgent action to prevent the situation from getting worse.
Professor Charles Parry from the South African Medical Research Council said as the third wave increases, it is “going to be dire”. “I think action needs to be taken before it gets to that point,” he said.
Shabir Madhi comment
The CHBAH ABT Covid facility has 500 beds ready but only 100 commissioned due to staffing ( unbelievable). Why build something if you can’t staff it! In the meantime there are Covid cases that will spend up to 2-3 days on O2 in chairs at HJH waiting for a bed. Inhumane!
— Shabir Madhi (@ShabirMadh) June 19, 2021