Gauteng Health Dept repurposes more than 4k beds amid COVID resurgence

With more than 12,000 new infections recorded in Gauteng in the past reporting cycle, there are more than 7,000 COVID-19 patients currently in private and public hospitals.

FILE: A doctor walks in the Respiratory & Meningeal Pathogens Research Unit (RMPRU) at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto on 14 July 2020. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - With major pressure on Gauteng hospitals amid the third wave of COVID-19 infections, the province is repurposing more than 4,000 beds to accommodate the influx of coronavirus patients.

With more than 12,000 new infections recorded in Gauteng in the past reporting cycle, there are more than 7,000 COVID-19 patients currently in private and public hospitals.

The Gauteng Health Department said both private and public hospitals were more than 90% full and public hospitals had a 60% bed occupancy rate for COVID-related cases.

The department's Ntsakisi Maluleke said they added 3,000 beds at the start of the third wave to deal with the huge demand for hospitalisation and an extra 1,322 beds were now being made available.

“The approach that we have been taking in increasing the number of beds as a risk-adjusted approach means that as we see the need for hospital beds increase, we respond accordingly.”

Maluleke said initial predictions were that by the peak of the third wave, Gauteng would need about 8,000 beds, but they had now had to adjust this to make about 10,000 beds available.

But the problem is not only to have the infrastructure, but also to increase the manpower.

Maluleke said they were recruiting 5,000 staff: “In the Gauteng Department of Health, we’ve been responding through the different waves by availing budget.”

In Johannesburg, there is significant pressure on hospitals and Maluleke said the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital was bearing the brunt.

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