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Covid-19: Health Department Takes Extra Precautions In Hardest-Hit Gauteng Province

MIDRAND, SOUTH AFRICA – MARCH 18: Gauteng Premier. David Makhura during the Gauteng Executive Council media briefing on implementation and enforcement of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 at Gauteng EMS Media Briefing Centre on March 18, 2020, in Midrand, South Africa. The special meeting comes after extraordinary announcements made by President Ramaphosa including declaring COVID-19 a national disaster. (Photo: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius)

SOUTH AFRICA: Gauteng has become the Italy of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic as a storm brews for health workers in the province. The economic powerhub of South Africa is the worst affected province with 132 positive tests, followed by the Western Cape with 88.

As of Saturday 21 March, South Africa had reported 240 cases, with 125 of them hailing from the Gauteng province. The Department of Health has moved to take additional precautionary measures to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.

Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku iterated that the province’s health facilities will be downscaling elective treatment and outpatient services. This measure is usually applied during major holidays in the country. It essentially translates to putting into abeyance non-essential services but, he said, emergency response teams would still be available.  The province would also be procuring more test kits to assist with detection and diagnosis but the emphasis would still focus on encouraging people to:

  • Wash hands with soap and water or make use of an alcohol-based sanitiser;
  • Avoid touching their faces;
  • Avoid close contact with sick people; 
  • Keep a distance of 1-2m; 
  • Cough into flexed elbow and cover mouth with tissues; and
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces. 

These measures would be implemented in all government buildings too, Masuku said. He said the province would make use of Treasury’s emergency procurement guidelines to procure enough protective equipment and clothing, such as masks and gloves, for staff.

Here’s how the changes made by the Department of Health will affect your health-care going forward:

  • All elective surgeries are hereby cancelled (these are surgeries that are planned in advance rather than those done in an emergency situation).
  •  Elective surgery with planned high care should be rescheduled to maintain surgical capacity.
  • All annual health events are cancelled.
  •  The Out Patient Department (OPD) will reduce the number of patient visits by using the appointment system
  •  A separate area for patients with flu-like symptoms to be identified in facilities.
  •  Thuthuzela Health Care Centre services to be extended beyond providing Forensic Services.
  •  Increase the number of chronic patients to be linked with Centralized Chronic Medical Dispensing and Distribution (CCMDD), and patients to be provided with 3 months’ supply of medication, and repeat script for six months.
  • Patients will also be encouraged to use Pele Boxes for collection of medication.
  • Restrictions on visiting hours in facilities. Only two people per patient will be allowed, with one person per patient for no more than 15 minutes.

Meanwhile the number of coronavirus cases in India has a reported spike in infections as confirmed by the Indian Council of Medical Research. The total number of novel coronavirus cases in India has crossed 396 on Sunday after fresh cases were reported from various parts of the Indian nation.

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