Lockdown Level 5: Netcare CEO calls for tough restrictions, now

Gauteng should go into lockdown level 5 to halt the surge in new Covid-19 infections that have hit the peak of the second wave.


Gauteng should be placed into Lockdown Level 5 and schools should close immediately to halt the surge in Covid-19 infections in the province Netcare CEO Richard Friedland advised during a radio talkshow on Monday night.

Friedland told Bruce Whitfield on The Money Show on Radio 702 that a form of hard lockdown, be it government regulated or citizen driven, was needed to halt the “massive unprecedented surge” of new infections in the province.

“We were always concerned at the start of the Covid pandemic that the most populous and the most densely populated by square kilometre would face a surge of this nature and we are now seeing it,” Friendland said.

“Until last week we were all merrily going along with this view that the experts were informing us that, yes there would be a wave but that it would be lower for longer…that trend line was broken on Wednesday last week when we saw over 7900 cases in one day, 1000 more than the peak on the 8 January this year and those numbers have continued to steadily rise,” Friedland said.

“We saw a record number of 8400 on Saturday and on Sunday 8600. I am afraid that these numbers are demonstrating that absent a level five lockdown in  Gauteng we are not going to see the end of this surge for some time to come,” he told Radio 702.

According to the latest statistics released by the Department of Health on Monday 21 June, there was a total of 9160 new infections nationally, of which 6292 cases were recorded in Gauteng. This represented a decline from the 13 155 new infections nationally reported on Sunday 20 June, of which 8640 were recorded in Gauteng.

Friedland said there were many organisations calling for a harder lockdown.

“I don’t think it’s an appeal just from frontline workers. There are many organisations that are saying we need a form of lockdown and if it is not lockdown regulated by government then people need to regulate themselves,” Friendland said.

He said the private sector, which has 1800 critical care beds in Gauteng, of which Netcare has 50%, was experiencing an urgent demand for high care or critical care beds. He said the private and public sector were very well prepared and had learned lessons during the first and second waves but the sheer number of new infections was overwhelming the health system.

“There is only a certain amount of ventilators and resources and staff to provide that care. We are dealing virtually with something I would classify as a mass casualty situation. The difference in a mass casualty situation is there is a train accident or a stadium collapses or crush injuries on a massive scale and you deal with it over a couple of hours and it resolves. We are dealing with a mass casualty situation on an ongoing basis across Gauteng since last week,” Friedland said.

He said the number of new infections were already 30% higher than at the peak of the second wave in January and there was no sign of the trend abating.

“We need to be closing schools and there is this mythology around that fact that schools are not transmitters of the virus and they certainly are. You only have to go back again to the lesson of the Spanish Flue, influenza of 1918 –  the cities that were successful in completely containing the outbreak of influenza were the ones that closed down schools early and religions and public gatherings. Schools are only closing on 9 July but we believe schools need to close now,” Friedland said.