Covid-19: Experts tell Mkhize 40 000 could die at peak infections

Covid-19: Experts tell Mkhize 40 000 could die at peak infections

- A shortage of ICU beds has been predicted for when SA hits peak Covid-19 infections

- A minimum of 40 000 lives are expected to be claimed when the full wrath of the virus has been visited upon the nation

- This was put forward by a range of experts advising the Department of Health on various scenarios

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The group of experts are advising the Health Department on the current Covid-19 disaster with numerous warnings over the impending storm of infections.

A likely crisis will be a shortage of ICU beds with predictions indicating that the virus will claim at least 40 000 lives.

Experts have been giving scenarios that may unfold over the course of the next few months and provided some details to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and media representatives on Tuesday.

May is expected the see 30 000 confirmed infections with an estimated 475 deaths before Level 3 lockdown begins.

By November, it is expected that 40 000 citizens would have died and infections would run into hundreds of thousands.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: 17200 infections, 312 deaths with first for Northern Cape

Dr Sheetal Silal cautioned that the models looked at both the best and worst-case scenarios.

Each of the nations nine provinces is expected to hit peak levels at different times, but the issue relating to ICU beds is predicted to be an issue across the board. Full capacity will be reached before the peak infection period is in full swing.

Mkhize stressed that the numbers were subject to change as more information becomes available:

“The one issue that we all agree on is that, up until recently, the figures from models were a bit less reliable. The term is 'uncertainty'. That uncertainty means that we must be aware that there is an issue but the exact date, the exact numbers and so on, will become clearer as you get more information fed into the system. We will be able to deal with that. However, at this point, we have been working on these numbers."

Weighing in on the issue surrounding the number of ICU beds in SA, Mkhize commented that:

“The total number of beds both in public and private sector comes to a total of 125,390. That is generally non-ICU beds, and then there are 4,000 beds which are ICU beds and with the time we have added, there have been another 6,500 beds that have been put up. There are also plans for adding additional ICU beds for example out in Nasrec [Johannesburg]. There are plans to put up ICU beds there. I think we must just note the fact that there will be this issue of the ICU bed shortfall."

The minister highlighted that the government is working on bed capacity in accordance to the needs of various regions:

“Based on the current plans that we are working on and also the focus in terms of the additional resources that there should be additional procurement that will actually help to improve the numbers at that point. That means that as we move along we will be dealing with that. In some of the provinces and some of the districts we have taken a view that says we need to look at the peak time as we look at the numbers increase, we are going to have to keep increasing the number of beds as it were." reported that the latest Covid-19 infections stood at 17 200 on Tuesday evening with 312 fatalities.

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