The limited reopening of the cancer unit at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital is a step forward, but we need to know when critical care beds at the hospital will be used to treat desperately ill Covid-19 patients.
There are more than 100 ICU beds that need to be put in operation as soon as possible, but no timetable has been given as to when this will happen.
Doctors at other Gauteng hospitals are making agonising choices about which patients get the chance to survive in a ICU bed, while others die because they cannot get specialist care.
It is still a mystery why large sections of the hospital that have been assessed as structurally safe cannot be opened immediately.
Premier David Makhura has said that he is prepared to go to jail for opening the hospital despite non-compliance with technical safety issues by the Johannesburg city council that would otherwise keep the hospital closed until September.
If this is the case, why is the rest of the structurally sound part of the hospital not reopened immediately?
Makhura does not need to be melodramatic about going to jail when he can simply use emergency powers or apply for an exemption while fire safety doors are installed.
He also needs to account for the appalling incompetence of the provincial department of infrastructure development which took five weeks to issue a tender for 19 fire doors.
There is no time to waste in restoring the use of critical care beds at the hospital to save lives during this terrible epidemic.
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