Makhura resigned to Gauteng missing out on Level 3 lockdown shift
Providing an update on progress made in Gauteng, Premier Makhura said that it was likely that the province would remain in Level 4.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura is seemingly resigned to the fact that despite the announcement that the country would be shifting to Level 3 lockdown regulations at the end of May, Gauteng will remain on Level 4.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday 13 May that areas with high infection rates would have to be subjected to stricter regulations than those that have managed to keep the spread of the virus to an optimal level.
Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday 14 May, Makhura said that the province was doing all it could to avoid surges in cases and shift to Level 3 as soon as is possible and safe.
ICU patients being closely monitored
Makhura said that the province has 8 301 beds have been made available in private and public hospitals over the last two weeks, and that 1 600 beds will be added in the coming weeks at new facilities.
He said he is ensuring that personal protective equipment (PPE) is procured well in advance of a possible surge of cases, adding that the province is currently in possession of 11 million units of PPE, with increasing quantities being produced locally by township-based businesses.
“We are learning and preparing all the time so that we can save lives,” he said. “When we say they are ready, it means that this is the number we have should someone need hospitalisation.”
He said that there are currently 39 patients in private hospitals and nine in public hospitals being treated for the virus, with two people being closely monitored as they receive treatment in ICU.
“We watch them very closely because the next death that occurs is likely to come out of those [kind of] cases,” he said of the ICU patients, who are being supported by ventilators.
“Since the begin of patient zero we have had 303 patients in private and public hospitals in Gauteng.”
Transport, retail agencies cooperating
Makhura said that progress was being made to stem the spread of virus through efforts to engage with shopping mall managers and transport bodies. He said that both had offered great assistance and were helping to reduce contact between residents.
“When we think of the townships, we think of where the infection rate is high risk. We are focussing on the malls and have identified them in townships where larger numbers of people interact.”
“We have met with mall managers in Gauteng and are now enforcing that every mall has a compliance officer and that every manager takes responsibility for the stores. They must ensure social distancing in the shops and that everybody only comes in when they have a mask.”
He said that taxi associations had been extremely cooperative and had been ensuring the safety of passengers.
“The public transport system is vulnerable because that is where people come into contact. From the Gautrain to the taxis, we are working with them and focussing on them.”
“The Gauteng taxi associations are really cooperating with us to keep the taxis sanitised and make sure that everyone is required to wear a mask.”
Food parcels now being properly distributed
Makhura also provided an update on feeding programmes, saying that 103 767 food parcels have been distributed in the province and that they have been able to impact the food security of half a billion people.
He said that homeless people are being included in the feeding scheme, with 3 251 people receiving meals.
“Shelters are assisting homeless people to be trained in skills to enhance their employability and earn incomes for themselves,” he added.
He said that roadblocks in the province were doing much more than simply facilitating law and order, with medical personnel on hand to conduct screening and testing.
“We continue to do screening and testing at roadblocks, they are not just for policing and enforcing regulations. Our healthcare workers are helping police and this is why our screening numbers are so much bigger [than other provinces].”