Are Gauteng hospitals ready for the 5th wave of Covid cases?

I am concerned that Gauteng Health Department lacks effective leadership as Covid-19 cases are shooting up in a likely 5th wave as we approach the winter season.

Last month the Acting Head of Department Dr Sibongile Zungu left for undisclosed reasons, and her post remains unfilled.

The Department has not had a permanent head since Professor Mkhululi Lukhele resigned in October 2020 after he was implicated in the misspending of PPE funds.

Other senior posts, including Chief Financial Officer, are still filled by acting personnel.

Yesterday (Sunday 24 April), there were 1727 new cases and 10 933 active Covid cases recorded in Gauteng, compared to 460 and 4 333 active cases a week before. This is an alarming jump.

At this stage we do not know the severity of the Omicron sub-variant which appears to be driving the new wave of cases, but hospitals can expect a flood of Covid patients in the next few weeks.

There are already 1272 Covid patients in both private and public hospitals in Gauteng, which has risen from below 1000 patients less than three weeks ago.

Acute shortages of staff are the main problem in treating Covid patients.

The scandal is that many of the newly built wards for Covid patients are empty because they have no staff or equipment.

Meanwhile, existing medical staff are mentally and physically exhausted by the strain of treating previous Covid patients and the backlogs in treatment for other patients.

Premier David Makhura has failed badly in not appointing competent and honest top managers to fix the perennial crisis in our hospitals which causes huge suffering to patients.

All empty posts should be filled as soon as possible to assist our hospitals to save lives and heal sick people.