‘We are feeling the pressure’: Gauteng hospital CEO as third wave hits

Many hospital facilities in Gauteng 'overwhelmed with the increase in Covid-19 positive patients', says Tembisa Hospital acting CEO Dr Ashley Mthunzi

11 June 2021 - 15:25
Figures released by the NICD show that Gauteng is bearing the brunt of SA's new Covid-19 infections, accounting for 61% of the cases recorded on Thursday — 5,597. Stock photo.
Figures released by the NICD show that Gauteng is bearing the brunt of SA's new Covid-19 infections, accounting for 61% of the cases recorded on Thursday — 5,597. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/HXDBZXY

“We are feeling the pressure and the positivity rate is increasing by the day,” Tembisa Hospital acting CEO Dr Ashley Mthunzi said on Friday morning. “The facilities are overwhelmed with the increase in Covid-19 positive patients.”

On Thursday, the provincial department of health said they were concerned by the alarming increase in Covid-19 infections in the province.

According to National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) figures released on Thursday night, SA recorded 9,149 new Covid-19 cases in the previous 24 hours. 

For the second day in a row, Gauteng accounted for the majority of the new cases. According to Thursday's figures, 61% of the new cases — 5,597 infections — were in Gauteng.

The national figures, according to the NICD, meant that the third wave of Covid-19 has officially hit the country.

On Thursday, Gauteng had 30,436 active cases and 11,573 deaths.

In the last seven days Gauteng reported 24,043 new Covid-19 cases.

Sub-district Tshwane 3 — which included areas like Atteridgeville, Laudium, the Pretoria CBD and Hercules — had the most confirmed active cases, at 2,810.

It was followed by City of Johannesburg C (Roodepoort, Constantia Kloof, Northgate and Florida) with 2,208 active cases and City of Johannesburg B (Randburg, Rosebank, Emmarentia and Greenside) with 2,069 cases.

As of June 9, a total of 3,314 cases had been reported across Gauteng schools.

The provincial government said on Friday that 1,977 pupils, 1,077 teachers and 138 admin staff had contracted the virus. General assistants and youth brigades made up the rest of the numbers.

Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said more than 3,500 people were hospitalised at public and private facilities. A total of 373 people were on ventilators in ICU while 118 were on oxygen. 

Mthunzi said 10 days ago, Tembisa Hospital on the East Rand only had 32 Covid-19 patients but that figure has now increased to 47.

“We at Tembisa Hospital have created 151 Covid-19 beds for both patients which are under investigation and positive patients. We currently are sitting on 27 persons under investigation and 47 positive patients.”

Mthunzi said the increase in admissions of Covid-19 patients had added extra strain on high-burden diseases including TB and HIV.

“Covid has encroached on that particular space, making the whole internal medicine to be overloaded and overcrowded.

“We are asking patients to recover from home as soon as possible post op so that we are able to create space for Covid patients,” he said.

Mthunzi said they were also making use of the 150 bed-overflow facility built by premium vehicle manufacturer BMW in Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria.

“We are utilising the Bronkhorstspruit facility for stable patients to create more beds for critical patients. We are seeing a lot of critical ill patients that are Covid positive, so the ones that are stable we are moving to Bronkhorstspruit.”

Netcare Group said they were noticing a “steady uptick” in Covid-19 cases in Netcare Hospitals nationwide, but more noticeably in Gauteng.

“The situation however remains fluid and changes on a daily basis,” Jacques du Plessis, MD of Netcare’s hospital division, said.

Sowetan reported that Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Diepkloof, Soweto, and Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria have seen a 50% increase in admissions of patients with the virus.

According to Sowetan, Bara had 46 patients two weeks ago and that figure doubled by last week.

Kekana said new infrastructure was built since the start of the pandemic, which meant that more beds had been added.

“You have beds and wards that are also repurposed in hospital as and when the need arises, in addition to new beds either in their facilities or cluster.

“Non-pharmaceutical measures remain the best method of containing the spread of the coronavirus. The department urges all people in the province to do their part to protect themselves and to help contain transmission of the virus by adhering to the preventive measures.”

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