Hospitals urged to increase bed capacity amid rising COVID cases

Experts monitoring the new Omicron variant are drawing lessons from the third wave which was largely driven by the Delta variant to plan for oxygen supply, hospital beds and staff.

FILE: All provinces have had to come up with a plan on how to approach this fourth wave and to make sure there are enough resources and personnel to cope. Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - Private and public hospitals are being urged to start preparing to increase their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients, including paediatric beds as health facilities in Gauteng record an uptick in admissions.

Experts monitoring the new Omicron variant are drawing lessons from the third wave, which was largely driven by the Delta variant to plan for oxygen supply, hospital beds and staff.

All provinces have had to come up with a plan on how to approach this fourth wave and to make sure there are enough resources and personnel to cope.

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The Department of Health has allocated senior staff to help prepare provinces that battled with the influx of COVID-19 patients in their hospitals during the previous waves.

The department's Ramphelane Morewane said there was an "oxygen task team" that met every week to monitor whether there was enough stock for the fourth wave.

“The service provider, Afrox, has finalised its plan for the fourth wave and that plan is available - which gives us guarantee of sustainable oxygen supply during the fourth wave.”

Morewane said provinces had now also been alerted to prepare their bed capacity for the fourth wave.

“Currently, we have not seen much pressure, our bed occupancy is still at 1.9% and ICU at 4.2%.”

The national coronavirus command council is expected to meet again next week to assess hospital capacity and whether there is a need for tighter restrictions in some areas.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla on Friday said the fourth wave could still be managed but only if citizens got vaccinated and kept to the non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“We also look at what pressure our health facilities are under and those are the things that will determine areas where they may be a need to raise the level of lockdown from the level 1 where we are.”

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