Gauteng health department clarifies there are not a million newly dug graves

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PRETORIA, July 9 – The Gauteng Department of Health on Thursday clarified that there were no million graves already dug in the province in anticipation of more deaths in relation to the rising number of coronavirus (Covid-19) infections.

“The province does not have over a million already open dug graves. The ‘over a million graves’ refers to the collective capacity municipalities can take,” said Kwara Kekana, spokesperson for Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku.

Kekana said Masuku visited one of the gravesites in Tshwane on Wednesday.

“The gravesite visited has a capacity of about 24,000. The Gauteng Department of Health is continuing to improve and increase both the infrastructure and human resource capacity of the health system to deal with the increasing pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

“We understand that the subject of death is an uncomfortable matter to engage in; however, ensuring that there is adequate burial space in the province, unfortunately, forms part of the reality government must contend with in the battle against Covid-19.”

On Wednesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told members of Parliament that the long-feared Covid-19 surge had arrived in South Africa and warned that it would see Gauteng and the Eastern Cape run out of hospital beds to accommodate patients within four weeks.

“We have now reached the surge… the storm we have consistently warned South Africa about, has now arrived,” Mkhize told a sitting of the National Assembly.

The minister added that with confirmed cases at 215,855 and deaths at 3,502, the pandemic was touching the lives of all South Africans.

“We are now at a point where it’s our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, close friends and comrades who are infected,” he said.

“This pandemic that is attacking us globally will cause some of us lifetime scars. It steals from us, from some lives, others jobs, others businesses. It spares no race, no gender or social class.”

In Gauteng, provincial health authorities announced on Thursday that six officials in the Gauteng Health Department’s war room had tested positive for Covid-19 as the number of new infections in the province continues to rise significantly.

“The Gauteng Department of Health wishes to confirm that six members of the Gauteng health Covid-19 war room have tested positive for Covid-19. Among those positive includes the head of the department, Prof. Mkhululi Lukhele. All the colleagues are doing well and are self-isolating at home,” said Kekana.

– African News Agency (ANA)