S.African Well being Employees stretched as COVID-19 infections close to 1 million from Reuters
© Reuters. South Africa approaches 1 million COVID-19 infections as a battle against a new variant
By Shafiek Tassiem and Wendell Roelf
JOHANNESBURG / KAPSTADT (Reuters) – Matron Annamarie Odendaal has canceled all employee holidays on the COVID-19 ward in the private Arwyp Medical Center in Johannesburg, as a second wave of the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm the South African health system.
“I called them back because we are currently in a high phase. Therefore, it is not easy for the employees because they want to return to their family members,” she told Reuters on Christmas Day on the station.
“Sometimes they are tired, but they never say ‘I can’t come to work’. The patient really is always the first for them.”
With the coincidence of school holidays, public negligence, and a new, potentially more infectious, variant of the virus, authorities have been looking to counter an unexpectedly early recurrence of infections, with the number of daily cases increasing nearly seven-fold from a month ago at 14,305 on Aug. December.
60-year-old Odendaal said the situation worsened when the hospital beds filled up quickly.
Several countries, including the UK, which has found the mutated variant in cases related to South Africa, have banned flights from the country, disrupted vacation travel plans and frustrated tour operators.
The latest data showed that the number of infections rose to 968,563 on Thursday. If the development continues, South Africa would already exceed the million mark on Sunday, as a Reuters balance showed.
South Africa has recorded 25,983 deaths, the highest number on the continent.
At the Groote Schuur Public Hospital in Cape Town, where the world’s first human-to-human heart transplant was performed in 1967, intensive care nurse Verna Collins said she was physically and emotionally drained.
“We thought we were late October, early November, and now that dark cloud is circling again, so emotional that the nurses have a lot of it,” Collins said outside the hospital on a short break from the COVID-19 intensive care unit, which is reaching capacity Has.
The mother of one, dressed in theater scrubs and a red Santa hat, said she was supposed to work on Christmas Day, but some of her work colleagues had to cancel their vacation plans after being called back.
Mediclinic private hospital group said the number of patients seeking care in their Western Cape hospitals and the increasing incidents in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng had already exceeded the first peak, and the majority of their intensive care and high-care units were at full capacity.
“With the new strain we have seen that patients do not recover as easily and this is a problem,” said Matron Odendaal.
During the first wave earlier this year, her hospital had fewer ICU patients, but now “they don’t respond well to treatment, so 90% of the time they end up in ICU”.
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