Health dept expands capacity as hospitals buckle under COVID pressure

Hospitals across the country are becoming increasingly overwhelmed with the second wave spreading rapidly across the country.

A patient with COVID-19 breaths in oxygen in the resuscitation room of the COVID ward at Khayelitsha Hospital near Cape Town on 29 December 2020. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Health Department on Monday said capacity at both private and public health facilities was being expanded to create more space to treat COVID-19 patients.

Hospitals across the country are becoming increasingly overwhelmed with the second wave spreading rapidly across the country.

The Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria has been battling an influx of COVID-19 patients over the past few weeks, prompting the facility to erect tents in the parking lot and to use other desperate measures to avoid turning people away.

Images of patients being treated in makeshift emergency units have been making the rounds on social media, with healthcare workers warning the hospital has reached breaking point.

With the second wave expected to peak in Gauteng, there are concerns that many hospitals in the province will not have enough beds to cope with the influx of new patients.

But director general at the health department Dr Anban Pillay said the system was not at full capacity yet.

“I know our private hospital colleagues are under greater pressure around beds.

"The bed occupancy is much higher at this stage than the public sector.

"We are supporting them at this stage but we have to monitor the situation and as things develop, we will bring on more and more beds.”

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