Deputy Health Minister Dhlomo: We are ready to deal with all the COVID waves

Deputy Health Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo said the department had been engaging with provincial health departments to better understand their challenges.

FILE: A professional healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) treats a patient in a tent dedicated to the treatment of possible COVID-19 coronavirus patients, while another cleans the ward at the Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria on 10 July 2020. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - Deputy Health Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo said the department was ready to deal with a fourth and even a fifth wave of the pandemic.

He said in the Gauteng epicentre, where the Omicron variant was also present, the department had thousands of beds ready for COVID-19 patients.

Dhlomo is responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces on the fourth wave and vaccinations.

The deputy minister said the department had been engaging with provincial health departments to better understand their challenges.

He said the third wave readiness and existing infrastructure were still in place in Gauteng with over 4,000 beds ready.

"They kept on updating us that there will be a third wave, there will be a fourth wave and possibly another wave. Therefore, you don't dismantle whatever you have put in place. In Gauteng, the are 4,407 beds within the public hospital that have been reserved specifically for COVID."

Dhlomo also touched on the Omicron variant, saying it could be devastating for the unvaccinated.

"We also know this because people who are vaccinated, even if they get readmitted, don't do as badly as people who are unvaccinated. So, we urge South Africans to continue to vaccinate."

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