Level 5 hard lockdown for Gauteng called for

The government is considering a move to a higher lockdown level in South Africa, with some experts calling for a hard lockdown in Gauteng.

Business Day reported that Gauteng’s provincial command council is meeting today to discuss the possibility of recommending severe restrictions.

The proposed restrictions will be similar to what was imposed when the country was under level 4 and 5 lockdowns last year.

A national inter-ministerial committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday to consider the government’s response to the pandemic.

These meetings come after a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in Gauteng which is flooding hospitals and putting the healthcare system under strain.

Professor Glenda Gray
Professor Glenda Gray

President and CEO of the SA Medical Research Council, Professor Glenda Gray called the situation in Gauteng a “catastrophe”.

“We have a shortage of hospital beds, there is not enough oxygen, and there are not enough medical professionals to care for patients,” she said.

“We hear about people being cared for at home, people sitting for two days in a chair waiting for a hospital bed, and about people trying to access oxygen at home.”

“This is a catastrophe and I hope that we are never in the same position again. I hope that the other provinces are ready and prepared.”

Shabir Madhi headline
Shabir Madhi

Gray’s comments echo the views of Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University.

Madhi said Gauteng hospitals are running beyond 100% occupancy, which is partly to blame on the closure of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital Covid-19 facility has 500 beds ready, but only 100 are commissioned due to staffing shortages.

The situation has reached such crisis levels that military health personnel was deployed to help healthcare professionals in Gauteng.

Madhi and Gray blamed the problems on the Gauteng Department of Health.

They said the department has been through this scenario twice already and should have been better prepared.

Netcare CEO, Dr Richard Friedland
Netcare CEO, Dr Richard Friedland

Netcare CEO, Dr Richard Friedland has called for a Stage 5 hard lockdown in Gauteng to contain the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Speaking to The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield, Friedland said the latest Covid-19 case numbers in Gauteng are far worse than what experts predicted.

“These numbers demonstrate absent level 5 lockdown in Gauteng, we will not see the end of this surge for some time to come,” said Friedland.

He said if the government is not willing to impose a hard lockdown, people must self-regulate.

The chart below shows the number of confirmed daily Covid-19 cases in Gauteng since the pandemic started in South Africa.

Gauteng Daily Confirmed Covid-19 Cases
Gauteng Daily Confirmed Covid-19 Cases

Gauteng premier David Makhura has also alluded to stricter lockdown rules in the province this week.

He said, “Gauteng is burning” and that the province did not want to send out a message that things are fine.

“The house is on fire,” he said, adding that the crisis in the province will continue unless people change their behaviour.

“The pandemic is completely out of control and if we have to do extraordinary things, like to ask for further restrictions above level three in Gauteng, it’s something we must explore.”

Not everyone thinks a move to stricter lockdown rules will help at this stage in Gauteng.

Professor Bruce Mellado
Professor Bruce Mellado

Professor Bruce Mellado, head of the Gauteng government’s Covid-19 medical advisory committee, said they have not recommended a harder lockdown for the province.

“The situation is grave in that we have a larger number of active numbers than the second wave. We seem to be two weeks away from the peak and once that happens cases will start going down,” News24 quoted him as saying.

“Unless we see a new spike, like the one we saw two weeks ago, it’s not clear that a lockdown is necessary.”

South African Medical Association (SAMA) head, Dr Angelique Coetzee also thinks there is not much value in stricter lockdown rules now.

She told News24 it’s too late to put in restrictions now.

“We should have done this when SAMA started asking three weeks ago. Now we have to go through this – it’s too late now,” Coetzee said.

Now read: Covid crisis in Gauteng

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Level 5 hard lockdown for Gauteng called for