Hospitals urged to increase bed capacity amid rising COVID cases

Experts overseeing the new Omicron variant are drawing lessons from the third wave, which was largely driven by the Delta variant in order to plan oxygen supplies, hospital beds and staff.

ACT: All provinces needed to develop a plan on how to approach this fourth wave and ensure that there were enough resources and personnel to deal with it. Image: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG – Private and public hospitals are urged to prepare to increase their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients, including cots, as health facilities in Gauteng see an increase in admissions.

Experts who monitor the new Omicron variant draw lessons from the third wave, which was largely driven by the Delta variant for planning oxygen supply, hospital beds and staff.

All provinces had to come up with a plan on how to approach this fourth wave and how to ensure they had enough resources and personnel to deal with it.

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The Ministry of Health has deployed senior officials to prepare provinces that have struggled with the influx of COVID-19 patients into their hospitals in the previous waves.

Ramphelane Morewane of the department said there was an “oxygen task team” that met every week to see if there was enough inventory for the fourth wave.

“The service provider Afrox has completed its plan for the fourth wave and this is available – which guarantees us a sustainable oxygen supply during the fourth wave.”

Morewane said the provinces have now also been alerted to prepare their bed capacity for the fourth wave.

“We haven’t seen a lot of pressure at the moment, our bed occupancy is still 1.9% and in the intensive care unit 4.2%.”

The national coronavirus command council is expected to meet again next week to assess hospital capacities and see if tighter restrictions are needed in some areas.

Health Secretary Joe Phaahla said Friday the fourth wave could still be tackled, but only if citizens get vaccinated and stick to non-pharmaceutical measures.

“We’re also looking at the pressures our healthcare facilities are under, and these are the things that determine the areas that they may need to lift the lockdown on from Level 1 that we are in.”

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