Residents in the economic powerhouse of Gauteng can expect Covid-19 cases to reach 120 000 by the end of July, the province’s Health MEC revealed to News24.
“Our predictions tell us that we will be reaching 120 000 by the end of July. We will be getting closer to 250 000 to 300 000 by August, [and in] September which is expected to be the peak, we will be having more than that,” Dr Bandile Masuku told News24 on Wednesday.
“September will not be much different than what August will be except that we will be having them at a consistent and at a longer period,” he added.
Masuku was speaking to News24 in a wide-ranging interview ahead of what has been described as the “storm” heading to South Africa’s economic hub.
The MEC’s estimates are not too far off from those of the SA Covid-19 Modelling Consortium which predicted that by 13 July 2020, the province could have an estimated 115 000 cumulative detected cases and 730 cumulative deaths.
To date, the highest number of Covid-19 cases has been attributed to the Western Cape (64 281 as of 30 June), however the rate of increases noted in Gauteng (which has recorded 42 881 as of 30 June) has officials in the province concerned that it would soon be the province with the most positive cases.
The health ministry, in a statement on Sunday, 28 June 2020, said it believed that within the coming days, Gauteng would emerge as the province with the highest Covid-19 numbers.
“Factors contributing to this trend are inward migration; the large population (especially in metros like Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane); increased congregating which spurs cluster outbreaks; and the level to which people are able to adapt to new behaviours such as social distancing and the wearing of masks,” the ministry explained.
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This expected surge in the province has been called the “Covid-19 storm” by Premier David Makhura.
What will the “storm” entail?
While Masuku states that he does not believe the public healthcare system will fail over the next few weeks, he admits it will however “feel the pressure”.
“It will be overcrowded in hospitals. We are already feeling the pressure in many facilities and we are going to see a lot of accident and emergency departments filled up with patients waiting to be put on beds and we are going to see a lot of healthcare workers exhausted/fatigued – a whole lot of absenteeism that might be coming from that part,” he said.
“There are a number of things that we need to be ready for and it’s just the intensity and the pressure that the system will be going through, so it will be felt by the system and the number of people going through our gates,” he explained.
The province has recorded 10 534 recoveries and 216 deaths.