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Mkhize: Bed capacity in private, public sectors insufficient for COVID-19 storm

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that South Africa was facing a shortage of hospital beds, with two of the hardest-hit provinces, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, worst affected.

A row of beds at the CTICC COVID-19 field hospital. Image: Premier Alan Winde/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned that bed capacity in the private and public sectors is expected to be breached in the next four weeks.

He said that South Africa was facing a shortage of hospital beds, with two of the hardest-hit provinces, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, worst affected.

Mkhize on Wednesday briefed Parliament on the government's COVID-19 response.

Minister Mkhize said that the COVID-19 storm that he'd been warning South Africans about had finally arrived.

In response, the Department of Health has developed and is implementing what it calls a Surge Strategy, in anticipation of the peak.

He said that this would ensure the department increased bed capacity for COVID-19, while at the same time continuing to deliver other health services.

"Bed capacity is still expected to be breached or overwhelmed in all the provinces. Currently planned hospital beds in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng are projected to be insufficient for combined ICU bed demand the overflow for ICU once ICU capacity has been breached."

Mkhize said that the department had built several field hospitals, which would primarily be used for mild cases.

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