The epicenter of a third wave of coronavirus cases in South Africa that’s being driven by the highly infectious delta variant has shifted from the economic hub of Gauteng to Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape province, where hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed.
The Western Cape had more than 38 000 active Covid-19 cases by midday on Tuesday, while there were less than 24 000 in Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria. Almost 3 700 virus patients are currently in hospitals in the coastal region, with 708 of them in intensive care.
The province has increased the number of beds dedicated to coronavirus patients, secured more ventilators and employed additional health-care staff, its Premier Alan Winde said on Tuesday. Three field hospitals have also been opened and an agreement with private hospitals to accommodate excess patients if capacity at state facilities ise reached, remains in place, he said.
“The health department indicates that the system is coping, while under pressure,” but there is always a concern that capacity will be inadequate when infections peak and that hasn’t yet happened, Winde said. “We continuously monitor our capacity, especially in our critical-care space.”
South Africa has confirmed more than 2.47 million Covid-19 infections across the nine provinces, and almost 73 000 of those who were diagnosed with the disease have died. Gauteng accounts for about 35% of the total cases and the Western Cape 16%.
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