Public not taking third wave as seriously as they ought to - GPAC chair Kawonga

Gauteng is the epicentre of the third wave, with about 60% of new cases.

Professional healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) attend to a patient inside the temporary ward dedicated to the treatment of possible COVID-19 coronavirus patients at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on 11 January 2021. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

CAPE TOWN - Healthcare facilities in Gauteng are under severe pressure as the country battles the third wave of COVID-19 infections.

Gauteng is the epicentre of the third wave, with about 60% of new cases.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is the extent to which we're seeing the increase in cases in the last three, four weeks. Particularly this week that's just ended, the epidemiological week ending on Saturday, where we've seen exceedingly high numbers of new cases,” said chairperson of the Gauteng Premier's Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Dr Mary Kawonga.

Kawonga said that over the last week, they had recorded the highest number of new cases per day since the start of the pandemic.

“And the second thing is the fact that when cases increase at the rate that they're doing in Gauteng, we start to see an increase in hospitalisations and so more and more people are getting admitted into hospital, sick people with severe COVID, obviously,” she said.

She said that health workers remained under immense pressure.

“And so the health system comes under pressure and the health workers, who have had a tough time since last year March completely being overwhelmed and not just having the physical pressure of having to go to work, but also the psychological and emotional pressure of nursing very sick people,” Dr Kawonga said.

Kawonga said that there was another issue keeping her up at night.

“I think, as much as we advise the premier about interventions that need to be put in place, we're also very concerned about the fact that, I don't want to sound negative, but I think the public is not taking this as seriously as they ought to,” she added.

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