In South Africa there is an increase in coronavirus cases, particularly in the province of Gauteng, where the capital Johannesburg is located, where hospitals are reaching their capacities and medical oxygen is becoming scarce.
The country, which is in the southern hemisphere and is currently in the middle of winter, is now preparing for what Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned of a “storm” urging South Africans to follow health guidelines.
Heated tents were set up in parking lots outside of hospitals to cope with patient overflow.
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“Patients are scared, very, very scared,”
Wilkinson is part of a voluntary effort to find 100 new oxygen concentrators for a 450-bed field hospital in Johannesburg.
Africa has seen a 24 percent increase in coronavirus cases in the past week, and South Africa is among the hardest hit, according to John Nkengasong, director of Africa’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa account for 71 percent of cases on the continent, although health officials fear that the lack of testing and transparency in other countries could mean a far more serious situation in Africa, The Guardian reported.
South Africa reported a new daily high of 13,674 cases on Friday, which according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) increases the country’s total number of confirmed cases to 238,339.
Over a third of the nation’s cases are in Gauteng Province.
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“The storm that we have consistently warned the South Africans about is coming,” said Mkhize.
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the third largest hospital in the world with more than 3,000 beds, was flooded by COVID-19 patients who are currently being hospitalized in undocumented coronavirus wards because of their full workload, according to The Associated Press.
“Our hospital is already overloaded. There has been an influx of patients in the past two weeks, ”a hospital nurse told The AP.
She also said that her colleagues run positive tests daily, “even people who don’t work in COVID stations.”
At least 8,000 health workers across Africa have tested positive for coronavirus, but half of them are from South Africa.
South Africa had initially taken strict measures to block corona viruses and even banned the sale of alcohol.
But on June 1, to reopen the weak economy, the authorities allowed table service in restaurants and religious services.
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Gauteng’s Prime Minister David Makhura announced on Friday that he had tested positive for coronavirus and urged people to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“We have to double our efforts,” he said in a statement.
The Johannesburg field hospital will receive another 800 beds to deal with the crisis, as well as 1,000 “oxygen points,” said Wilkinson, the public health specialist, before adding that it could take weeks for everything to arrive.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.