Gauteng Premier David Makhura says the Provincial Coronavirus Command Council is consulting with various sectors about the need to reinstate some of the drastic measures that will ensure that the pandemic is contained.

Makhura said that the province will also, among the key interventions, make a representation to the National Command Council on the need to re-introduce stringent measures, including possible intermittent localised lockdowns and slowing down of re-opening of sectors and schools.

“We have to do whatever it takes to contain the spread of the pandemic,” Makhura said.

Presenting the province’s interventions to curb the spread of Coronavirus at the Provincial Command Council weekly media update on COVID-19 held on Thursday (July 2), Makhura noted that the month of June has seen a sharp spike in the number of confirmed cases on a daily basis, and the province now has the largest number of active cases.

“Hospitalisation has also increased exponentially in the past 14 days. Although the mortality rate is still low but it is increasing. The COVID-19 storm has arrived.

“Health services and health workers are beginning to bear the brunt of COVID-19 as the case load increases. The pandemic is running ahead of the projected peak of September,” Makhura said.

Latest statistics

As of 1 July 2020, Gauteng had 45 944 confirmed cases and 35 166 active cases of COVID-19.

Makhura said that work is currently underway to increase bed capacity and staffing in the public sector, including field hospital beds at Nasrec and Tshwane Events Centre.

“Four thousand five hundred additional beds will be ready by the end of July, in preparation for the peak. Over the next four weeks, ward-based COVID-19 response teams will be active in localities to help get the message out to communities about the need to observe health and hygiene measures, social distancing and wearing of masks,” Makhura said.

Over 1 000 public servants tested positive

According to the statistics presented by Makhura, out of 172 113 public servants in Gauteng, 1 641 have tested positive since March – 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 that tested positive have been tested and will continue to follow all protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.

“There is ongoing decontamination of all public buildings regularly as part of the measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. As part of continuous medical surveillance protocol, frontline public servants undergo daily screening and some are referred for testing,” Makhura said.

Gauteng has adequate PPE stock

Based on the current patient load, the Premier said the province has adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in stock, but they continue to order more stock for the next phases of the pandemic.

Food Security updates

Makhura said since the lockdown, 329 186 households have been provided with food relief, supporting a total of 1 432 650 people (at least five people per household).

However, Makhura said the demand for food far outstrips the province’s capacity to meet the need.

“We continue to call for more support from business, foundations and civil society initiatives on food relief. However, such initiatives must be coordinated with government and the distribution should avoid breaching social distancing regulations,” Makhura said.

Shelters for homeless people

The Premier said the provincial government is providing temporary shelter to the homeless in 47 shelters across the province, working with municipalities.

He said that 2 825 homeless people are provided with three meals on a daily basis including psychosocial support, medical assessments and treatment for substance abuse.

“Five hundred and twenty seven homeless beneficiaries have absconded from shelters to return to the streets, 520 have self-discharged themselves, 346 people were re-united with families from April – 5 June 2020, [and] 307 people have been sent to rehabilitation centres for substance use disorders,” Makhura said.

Makhura reiterated the call for people to adhere to the lockdown regulations and practise the rules of hand hygiene and good cough etiquette.

“We remind people once more that there is currently no cure for COVID-19. The only way to prevent transmission is to avoid physical contact.”

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