Gauteng health dept ramps up efforts against COVID-19 spread ahead of winter

As the winter season approaches, there have been concerns around the pandemic overwhelming Gauteng’s health system.

Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and the provincial executive council on 31 March 2020 rolled out massive community screenings and testing programmes in Alexandra township to screen residents for coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture: Ahmed Kajee/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku said the province's health system was ready for an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

There's been another rise in the national coronavirus death toll; the latest eight fatalities bring the number to 161.

The national Department of Health also confirmed an increase of 424 cases - bringing the number of people who've contracted the virus in South Africa to 8,232.

In response, the MEC on Thursday said the department would be ramping up its efforts by rolling out more COVID-19 facilities, hospital beds and additional testing capacity.

As the winter season approaches, there have been concerns around the pandemic overwhelming Gauteng’s health system.

The provincial health department said dozens of wards had been converted into intensive care units and isolation wards at various hospitals while testing and screening of residents would be conducted at shopping malls.

Masuku said: “Gauteng is doing more tests than most other provinces and we’ll be starting to screen and test people at shopping malls and shopping centre because that’s one of the areas where we’re worried in terms of transmission.”

He said government had also secured at least 10.4 million units of personal protective equipment following an increase in health workers testing positive for COVID-19.

“We’re not going to say we have enough. I think we can only say we’ve got adequate stock for a particular period of time because we’re seeing a number of what we call hospital acquired infections in our hospitals, which normally affects our health workers and patients.”

The MEC has reiterated the importance of people wearing masks especially when leaving their homes during this period.