Gauteng Health setting priorities for Coronavirus

At a Gauteng Legislature Health Committee meeting this morning Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Maseko set out rational and sensible priorities to combat the Coronavirus in Gauteng.

He said that all Gauteng hospitals had been directed to create isolation areas for suspected and probably Covid-19 cases. Venues for mass quarantining were also being sought.

9000 Community Healthcare Workers will be trained as contact tracers, and 10 000 additional test kits are being procured over and above what the NICD is already providing.

A major problem is that the NICD hotline for cases has been overwhelmed, so war room contact numbers for Gauteng will be publicized.

Other important points that were made include the following:

  • Health workers need to be provided with protection both for their own sake and to ensure that there are enough trained staff available to deal with the epidemic.
  • Clinicians rather than politicians will take charge in setting priorities.
  • Testing our of fear should be discouraged in view of limited resources – only cases of genuine risk should be tested.

Masuku urges that citizens must also be responsible in taking appropriate precautions to avoid infection.

He raised the possibility of travel restrictions out of Gauteng that might be required over the Easter season as Gauteng is the epicenter of the epidemic.

My assessment is that the correct priorities have been set in line with the best information from medical professionals.

My fear is that we need to act fast and there are deficiencies in implementation.

The DA in Gauteng pledges full support to MEC Masuku in what he is trying to achieve in a difficult situation, and we will help in whatever way we can.

My strong sense is that the national guidelines restricting gatherings to less than 100 need to be lowered to 50 or even 10 as is the case in many overseas countries.

It is imperative that we break the transmission rate before it escalates dramatically.