South Africa: Gauteng's Oxygen Shortages Raise Questions About Lockdown Planning

analysis

As Covid-19 surges, Gauteng hospitals and clinics are running out of oxygen. Nasrec field hospital, the province's biggest, only has beds supplied with piped oxygen. More beds are being prepared, though.

The symptom that all Covid-19 lists warn is the red light is a shortness of breath and a tight chest, signalling that the infection is not benign but possibly harmful.

The novel coronavirus's South African epicentre has moved from the Western Cape to Gauteng, infecting 71,000 by July 7 with 21,400 recoveries. (Over 80% of cases are of a mild variety of infection or in fact, symptomless.)

Soweto and the Johannesburg inner-cities are the epicentre of the epicentre with over 14,000 cases in the two regions alone.

Doctors report that "happy hypoxics" are showing up in numbers at clinics and hospitals - patients with oxygen saturation levels so low they are in danger, but who do not realise they are in the red zone.

"Usually a little bit of oxygen at a clinic can get them through. You can prevent complications that way," says Dr Francesca Conradie, deputy director of the Clinical HIV Research Unit at Wits University, adding that "We are beginning to run short of oxygen in...

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