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Gauteng enters fourth wave

Gauteng enters fourth wave
Written by Kalay Nair

Gauteng has entered the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. Michelle Groome, head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Groome said Gauteng has seen a rapid and sustained increase in COVID-19  cases.

“For all intents and purposes, Gauteng is in the fourth wave. This will certainly spill over to other provinces,” said Groome.

She said Limpopo, North West, and Mpumalanga are currently experiencing an increase in cases.

COVID-19 variant called Omicron was detected in the country last week. It has 30 mutations and while scientists are still studying Omicron, it is likely to be more transmissible.

Young children testing positive

The new infections are being driven by younger people but those who are dying are over the age of 65, said the NICD’s Dr. Wassila Jassat said

She added that a higher number of children under two were getting infected.

“We may need to look at paediatric bed preparedness”, she said

Under South Africa’s vaccine programme children aged between 12 and 17 are being given one dose of the Pfizer vaccines. The government is focusing on vaccinating 70 percent of the adult population vaccinated by mid December. 

The best way to protect children is for the adults around them to get vaccinated.

​​Most hospital admissions are unvaccinated

Groome said most patients being admitted to hospitals are unvaccinated.

“In Tshwane, 13% of hospital admissions are vaccinated people and 87% are unvaccinated people. There is a much higher risk of death among unvaccinated patients who get admitted than vaccinated patients,” she said.

Gauteng is prepared

The Gauteng health department said it has been preparing for the fourth wave since the end of the third wave

Dr. Freddy Kgongwana,  Head of Hospital Services at the Gauteng Health Department, said the province has 4 407 beds for the fourth wave. 

Kgongwana said the department has 6 000 dedicated Covid-19 personnel and that the number of healthcare workers in the province increased from 68 000 last year to 81 000 this year.

According to Kgongwana, the department still wants to hire an additional 1 000 healthcare workers. 

“We need to reassure our community that we are ready for the Covid-19 fourth wave. We have very dedicated workers in the system.” – Health-e News

About the author

Kalay Nair