Seven children younger than nine have died of Covid-19 in Gauteng since last week, health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku confirmed on Friday.
This comes as the province became the epicentre of the virus in the country on Wednesday. By Thursday, the province had recorded 81,546 confirmed cases, 515 deaths and 23,804 recoveries.
Masuku said 3,006 Covid-19 patients had been admitted to various hospitals. Of these, 197 are being ventilated and 551 are on oxygen support.
While the number of infections remained high, Masuku said the mortality rate had been relatively low.
Masuku was speaking during the weekly provincial command council briefing, where he announced that a total of 3,920 general beds would be added in five field hospitals. He said the current bed capacity was 8,730 in both public and private facilities.
Of the 515 deaths recorded so far, 284 are male and 231 are female. Statistics reveal that the majority of those who had succumbed to the virus are between the ages of 50 and 79, who account for 65% of the total deaths.
These are followed by the 40-49 age group (9.1%), the 80-89 age group (8.7%) and the 30- 39 age group (7.4%).
Masuku said seven children under the age of nine had died in the past week, accounting for 1.4% of the fatalities.
He said 281 of the people who had died had diabetes and hypertension, or both.
Statistics show that 2,630 public servants (public health-care workers and educators) have tested positive for the virus since March.
“Sadly, we have lost some of our health-care workers to the virus while they were in the line of duty. Like all other patients, affected staff and their family members are receiving care and treatment in line with the World Health Organisation protocols,” said Masuku.
He said other staff members who were in contact with those that tested positive had been tested and would continue to follow protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
“There is ongoing decontamination of all public buildings regularly as part of the measures to combat the spread of Covid-19,” he said.
Masuku reassured the province of the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Based on the current patient load we have adequate PPE in stock. However, we continue to order more stock for the next phases of the pandemic. We still want to emphasise that surgical and N95 masks must be reserved for use only by front line health-care workers,” he added.