Being prepared for the third Covid-19 wave hitting us is crucial. While getting a vaccine is a matter of national and international concern, there are small, low-cost high-impact strategies that can be put in place in every hospital right now that will strengthen our healthcare system.
South Africa was widely praised for successfully flattening the curve of the first wave of Covid-19. Early, strict lockdown measures, including a ban on alcohol, allowed the health system to prepare for a surge of cases.
When the first wave eventually hit, the number of cases was lower than expected. Hospitals and clinics had set up screening and triage of patients, additional oxygen, human resource and bed capacity had been created -- even if sometimes wastefully-- guidelines were in place and emergency departments weren't overloaded with victims of alcohol-related violence and car accidents.
During the early days of the lockdown, the country's overall death rate was even lower than it was the year before.
In addition to early prevention measures, the first wave was characterised by multiple external introductions of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, into South Africa, before local transmission started in earnest. People coming by air from Europe transmitted the virus...