Gauteng Premier David Makhura said over the past seven days, COVID-19 cases in Gauteng have doubled, with hospital admissions increasing and 20 more people dying as a result of COVID-19.
"Gauteng has entered a new period in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is gaining momentum. We must face this reality head-on and mobilise all resources and energy to save lives,"Makhura said.
As of Thursday, the province had a total of 7 953 COVID-19 cases, 4 948 active cases, 2 948 recoveries and 57 deaths. The province has screened 7 458 034 people and conducted 338 211 tests.
The Premier on Friday led the Provincial Command Council media briefing as the provincial government provided an update on COVID-19.
"Cumulatively, 1 033 patients were admitted in hospital, 476 of whom were discharged and 57 succumbed to the infection. Currently, 493 patients are admitted in hospital, 22 of whom are ventilated and 124 on oxygen,"he said.
Since March, 335 public servants in Gauteng have tested positive for the virus. This includes public Health workers and Educators.
“Like all other patients, affected staff and their family members are receiving care and treatment in line with the World Health Organisation protocols. All other staff members, who were in contact with those who tested positive, have been tested and will follow all protocols to prevent the spread of the virus,” Makhura said.
There is ongoing decontamination of all public buildings regularly, as part of the measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
In addition, public servants undergo daily screening and some are referred for testing, as part of continuous medical surveillance protocol.
In its efforts to save lives, the province is planning to meet with the Minister of Health in the coming week for reinforcement and further support in order to strengthen government’s response.
“We call for significant behavioural change among the residents of our province: wear masks, wash your hands, sanitise and observe physical distance. We are deeply concerned about the surge in the number of trauma cases related to alcohol abuse,” Makhura said.
The Premier said everyone must take the necessary precautionary measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
“Based on the current patient load, we have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) in stock. However, we continue to order more stock for the next phases of the pandemic,” he said.
Makhura emphasised that surgical and N95 masks must be reserved for use only by frontline healthcare workers.
“Priority is on the empowerment of local manufacturing companies; small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and township businesses,” he said.
The Gauteng provincial government said it would be meeting with the national government next week to request reinforcements as it entered a difficult time in its fight against COVID-19.
Most schools have now reopened, while some remain closed for various reasons, primarily due to issues relating to infrastructure, and specifically the supply of water, as well as the availability of ablution facilities.
“A number of schools have been temporarily closed due to confirmed COVID-19 cases. In some of these instances, we are awaiting the report from the Department of Health to confirm that it is safe to reopen.
“Both learner and teacher attendance has been above the 85%. A detailed assessment will be done at the end of the week. Many teachers, who have not returned, are teachers with comorbidities,” the Premier said.
Most of the learners, who did not return to school, have comorbidities or parents chose not to send them back to school.
“We are consolidating figures for educators and learners with comorbidities, which could influence the attendance rate in our schools,” the Premier said.
Meanwhile forty water tanks have been distributed to 11 needy schools in the City of Tshwane in a bid to protect learners against the spread of Coronavirus.
Learners in Grade 7 and 12 across the country returned to school on Monday, two months after the country went into lockdown to prevent the transmission of the disease and to flatten the curve.
The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) said 36 water tanks have been distributed to nine schools in Hammanskraal, while four tanks were distributed to two schools in Sokhulumi in the City of Tshwane.
“The nine schools are in areas that have been identified as hotspots in Hammanskraal, and therefore are required to increase their safety measures by supplying water tanks. Each school in Hammanskraal benefited from four 2 500-litre water tanks, while in Sokhulumi, the two schools each received two 5 000-litre water tanks,” the department’s Gauteng Provincial Head, Sibusiso Mthembu, said on Friday.
Mthembu said the provision of the water tanks to the 11 schools will go a long way towards ensuring that the schools are better prepared to resume teaching and learning, and that both learners and staff are sufficiently protected in the midst of the spread of COVID-19.