Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria.Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria.

  • Since 20 December, the Steve Biko Academic Hospital has seen a sharp increase in cases.
  • Patients are coming from private hospitals and other provinces to seek treatment. 
  • Pictures shared on social media showed patients being treated in tents in a roofed structure at the hospital’s Emergency Unit entrance.

The Steve Biko Academic Hospital, in Pretoria, has seen a sharp increase in Covid-19 patients, with some coming to the hospital from private hospitals and other provinces due to a lack of space.

In a statement on Sunday, the Gauteng health department said the hospital, which is a specialist facility, was under great pressure.

The department released the statement following a series of pictures, shared on social media, which showed patients were being treated in tents in a roofed structure at the hospital’s Emergency Unit entrance.

“The increased number of patients are sicker and require critical care, with some arriving in groups and putting serious pressure on the facility. Some of the patients the hospital is receiving come from private facilities because of lack of space, while others are self-referred from other provinces, such as North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo,” said the department.

Last year, in an effort to increase beds, the department converted the Tshwane District Hospital (TDH) into a strictly Covid-19 treating facility, in partnership with Steve Biko, which means the two hospitals are now one complex.

“The complex is currently under pressure, especially with regard to the patients that require specialist immediate attention and, therefore, can be treated only in certain hospitals, which are also overwhelmed,” said the department.

The department also said both private and public hospitals in the province worked on an ambulance diversion system.

Steve Biko, however, resolved that there would be no diversion of ambulances to other facilities, and no turning away of any patients, as long as there are beds.

“With non Covid-19 patients, that service gets utilised, but for Covid-19 patients all hospitals are inundated. Covid-19 patients require immediate care,” said the department.

Two additional tents to accommodate this increase in the number of patients are expected to go up at the hospital.

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