Limpopo scrambles for ventilators amid Covid-19 spike

Limpopo health department has ordered more oxygen ventilators as the health system has been put under strain due to a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases. The acting head of the provincial health department, Ntodeni Ndwamato, said they have ordered 30 more ventilators to complement the 80 existing ones.

The ventilators were initially ordered but the department cancelled the order after the service provider took long to deliver during the first wave of the pandemic. Ndwamato said that the department now needs R106.7m to procure equipment. The department has already spent R64m in preparing for the surge.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize embarked on an oversight visit to several health facilities, including Tshilidizini Regional Hospital in Thohoyandou. Mkhize promised that the province will get the ventilators.

“The delay in the supply was caused by the global demand because previously there was a shortage. However, we do have the machines at our head offices and we just need to assess how many are needed for Limpopo,” he said.

He said he visited Limpopo out of concern due to growing numbers of infections when compared to the cases reported during the first wave.

“The province’s surge was delayed, hence we see these numbers going up just like in Northern Cape, North West and Mpumalanga, and we discovered that this is behaviour-driven because people are no longer wearing their masks and practising social distancing,” he said.

Tshilidizini Hospital has only two Covid-19 patients in its ICU.

Dr Armando Sanchez Canal told Mkhize that they were understaffed as the demand for doctors is growing.

“We know this is a global crisis but we need beds and more personnel to fight the virus,” the doctor said.

MEC for health Phophi Ramathuba said that the Limpopo health department is currently not under pressure. She said the just need to be prepared in case a need arises. She said hospital in the province have empty beds they are not full.

Mkhize and Ramathuba also visited Thavhani shopping complex in Thohoyandou, where they encouraged the public to stay safe by after Covid-19 guidelines.

Provincial health department spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said they chose the shopping centre because it had hosted a party last month, where people were not wearing face masks and there was no social distancing. The images were shared on social media.

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