David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
David Makhura. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The Gauteng provincial government will battle the Covid-19 pandemic as though the peak of virus could still hit the country’s economic hub, despite the number of active cases steadily declining over the past few weeks.

Gauteng premier David Makhura said in a media briefing on Friday that it is good news that the number of active cases is going down, while the recoveries in the province are increasing.

Gauteng is the epicentre of the pandemic in SA after infections surged when the majority of the economy was opened up in June. By Thursday, 187,631 people in the province had tested positive for the coronavirus. About 132,000 of these had recovered, while 53,241 cases were still active.

While the spread of the virus is expected to peak at the end of August or in September, the amount of active cases has continually declined and seems to have shown signs of stabilising since June.

“The surge is easing,” Makhura said, but added that he does not want to claim that the peak has passed, saying, “It may have been the first wave.”

He said the province is still working on the basis that the worst is yet to come.

He called on the province’s residents to remain vigilant, as “the storm is not over yet ... We see positive signs that we are weathering the storm”.

He said if the peak does hit later this month or in September, the provincial government is prepared for it.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said earlier this week that several indicators, including the seven-day rolling average of new cases, hospital admissions and the number of severely ill people presenting at hospitals with possible Covid-19, showed that the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape had surged and plateaued.

However, Mkhize said it is too soon to draw firm conclusions about whether infections in these provinces are declining.

Makhura said on Friday that there was a point in June in which the recoveries made up only 30% of the total cumulative cases. This has shifted dramatically as recoveries now make up about 70% of the cumulative cases. He said the fatality rate in the province remains low at just above 1%. 

Dealing with hospital admissions, Makhura said the province had gone through a period in which hospitals were bursting at the seams, but that the situation is “better now”. 

Dr Medupe Modisane, acting deputy director-general for hospital services in Gauteng, said at the highest admission rate in winter, hospitals were admitting between 300 and 350 patients a day. This has come down gradually with about 100 patients admitted on Thursday.

Modisane said in the middle of July there were, on average, between 5,700 and 5,900, and at one point more than 6,000, patients daily.

He said according to figures provided on Thursday, the number of patients has now stabilised at about 4,600 to 4,700. “It’s a drop of 18% in the past two weeks. It may not be significant, but in the context of the bigger pandemic it’s a good drop.” 

mailovichc@businesslive.co.za

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