Gauteng health denies preparing over a million graves as Covid-19 infections increase

A bulldozer can be seen digging graves at the Honingnestkrans graveyard in Pretoria, 8 July 2020. The site is being prepared for an influx of Covid-19 related deaths. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The provincial department says the large number of graves refers to the collective capacity municipalities can take.

The Gauteng department of health has said it had not prepared mass graves as Covid-19 infections increase in the province.

“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,” the department said in a statement on Thursday.

The department said Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku on Wednesday visited a cemetery in Tshwane which as the capacity of about 24,000.

In an interview with Newzroom Afrika on Wednesday, Masuku said the said cemetery was expected to be extended by 36,000 graves.

The department said on Thursday that it was continuing to improve and increase infrastructure and human resource capacity of its health system to deal with the pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“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,” the statement reads.

Meanwhile, the department confirmed on Thursday that six members of its Covid-19 war room have tested positive for the disease, including head of the department, Professor Mkhululi Lukhele.

The province has overtaken the Western Cape as the country’s Covid-19 hotspot.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced on Wednesday that Gauteng now has 75,015 cases in total, compared to the Western Cape’s 73,292. Combined, the two provinces account for 66% of all cases.

ALSO READ: Gauteng department of health confirms six Covid-19 cases in health war room

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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