Gauteng Premier David Makhura has described the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane “the eye of the storm of the second wave of infections.”

As Covid-19 infections strain facilities in Gauteng, the premier paid a visit to the struggling hospital on January 11. Makhura told journalists he was compelled to visit the overwhelmed hospital after disturbing social media images over the weekend. Social media users circulated photos of tents set up outside the hospital and filled with patients.

“The admission numbers in our hospitals have doubled everywhere in the last seven days,” said the premier. In December, the numbers were ranging from a hundred patients, now they are ranging above two hundred patients in various facilities.”

The busy emergency room at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. (Marcia Zali/Health-e News)

Infection rates worry government

The daily infection rates is currently sitting just above the peak seen during the first wave of the virus, Makhura said.

“With regard to infections, we are just where we were at the peak of the first wave. Mid-July, the highest daily infection rate was at 6500,” said Makhura. “Currently, in just over three [to] four days, the infection rate has been between 6,200 up to 6,900. All models are telling us that the resurgence may be more than the first wave.”

This sharp rise has seen hospitals overwhelmed with an influx of patients needing emergency assistance. The images and video of Steve Biko

Provincial patient numbers rising

Steve Biko Academic Hospital CEO Dr Mathabo Mathebula said  patients from neighbouring provinces Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West are all arriving at the Tshwane hospital. Patients from private hospitals are also arriving at the state hospital’s emergency room seeking medical care.

“Yes, we are under pressure but what is more worrying is that in the first wave, the people that were sick were elderly people and young people were recovering quickly and some were not having symptoms,” said Mathebula. “Now, the people that we are admitting are younger people and it’s worrying.”

Gauteng had 328,925 positive Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 6,142 deaths and 276,998 recoveries. At present, Makhura said the province now has about 4,500 Covid-19 patients in both public and private hospitals.

Patients waiting outside the hospital (Marcia Zali/Health-e News)