Our take: Take action, Gauteng

“This is not a wave; this is a tsunami”.

These are the words a doctor working at a private healthcare facility used to describe the deadly increase in Gauteng’s Covid-19 infections. 

By now you may have heard just how bad things are in South Africa’s most populous province. The daily infection rate is exceeding 10 000 – way worse than what was seen in the first and second waves. Everyone is being affected. No one expected it to be this bad. 

The doctor, who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, said: 

“With the hospital overrun, there just aren’t enough resources to care for everyone.” 

“People are waiting outside; ambulances are standing in queues at hospitals waiting to offload the sick.”

We’re seeing the nightmare scenarios that played out early on in hospitals in Italy and New York, with doctors having to decide who gets to live and who has to die. As the doctor said:

“We are trying to help the survivors versus every sick person because we can’t help everyone.”

Remember: that’s at a PRIVATE healthcare facility.

Another healthcare professional said that new people were being put into beds barely 30 minutes after the previous occupant had died.

Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Jonny Myers, Emeritus Professor in Public Health Medicine at the University of Cape Town, wrote in the Daily Maverick that the shortage of beds in Gauteng resulted from poor planning and was being exacerbated by the closure of the 1000-bed Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital due to a fire in April. That hospital’s reopening keeps being pushed back.

Plus, we don’t even have the makeshift facilities at Nasrec that we did during the first two waves: they were underused and expensive to run, so they were shut down. The delay in completing dedicated separate treatment facilities, which would have housed at least 1 400 beds, has also made matters worse. 

As much as we hate to be the bearer of bad news, it is our responsibility to inform you that this IS the reality unfolding in our country right now. It’s not looking good, and while you might say President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to introduce stricter restrictions in Gauteng, we’re here to tell you, don’t wait for him. At this point it’s about what YOU need to do to protect yourself and your loved ones. We know you’re tired, South Africa – we all are – but young or old, you need to take every precaution you can to keep safe. Covid-19 is in the air and we don’t know how long it’s going to take for things to get better. But rest assured, it will get better, you just need to play your part.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 24 June 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates