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Netcare warns oxygen and ventilators ‘not always available’ amid a resurgent Covid-19

Netcare, one of the country’s largest private health-care providers, says the number of patients admitted to hospitals particularly in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, the Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal far exceeds what was experienced in the first wave of the pandemic, adding that the surge in Covid-19 infections has placed “significant and unprecedented demand” on the hospital group’s facilities.

Netcare CEO Dr. Richard Friedland said this may mean that levels of care such as “ICU and high care, ventilators, or certain oxygen delivery modalities may not be available to all patients.”

“While we will always endeavour to provide care to patients arriving at our facilities, the increased demand will require us to make decisions regarding access to certain treatment modalities. All these decisions will be based on recognized international guidelines of triage [allocation of treatment based on priority] and transition of care.”

Friedland added that Netcare has urgently recalled all front-line staff from leave as the Covid-19 resurgence grows in NG.

The group is also deploying additional doctors, nurses, paramedics and health-care worker teams to areas of need, he said.

Gauteng a huge concern

Friedland said Netcare was constantly reviewing and evaluating its strategy and operations.

“Fortunately, we have seen a reduction in cases in the Eastern Cape.”

He said he’s “extremely concerned about Gauteng” which is already beginning to surge and is expecting a dramatic increase in cases as holidaymakers return to the province in early January. 

“We expect this demand to continue in Limpopo and the Western Cape for at least the next two weeks, but unfortunately to increase in KZN over the same period,” he noted.

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Adequate supplies

Friedland assured that Netcare has sufficient supplies of appropriate drugs and consumables, as well as personal protective equipment to last throughout the second wave.

“We have implemented strict infection prevention and control policies and principles. We demand fastidious adherence to these standard operating procedures, which are at all times aligned to the guidelines and protocols issued by the World Health Organisation [WHO] and the national department of health.

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