GAUTENG is preparing for the worst as it continues to record the highest number of new coronavirus cases even though hospitalisation is still low, compared to the previous wave.

The province is expected to peak in the next two weeks, but Premier David Makhura said the experience of the past waves will put it in good stead in terms of preparations to deal with containing the spread of the virus.

Makhura, updating the province after a vaccination drive, said unlike in the past waves, there was now vaccines which would protect those who have vaccinated from severe illnesses or death as compared to the past.

The premier said it was encouraging that since the discovery of the new variant, the province has been picking up the pace on the vaccination front after the numbers decreased significantly when residents lost interest in getting their jabs.

“We want to call on the people of our province to step up the vaccination. This week, the good news is that we are back at above 50 000 vaccinations a day. And that’s the good news for us.

“So Monday we got 51 000, Tuesday we got 54 000 and on Wednesday we got 51 000 daily vaccinations.

“We had fallen just even below 30 000 vaccinations a day,” he said.

Makhura said the province was aiming to vaccinate about a million people before people go out on holiday, or visit families in other provinces as it was the norm during the festive season.

“We don’t want people to carry this variant to other provinces, especially those who are not vaccinated. It’s better to vaccinate and we know the advantage of being in the province like Gauteng is that access to healthcare services is much better,” he said.

Makhura said the province had 4,5 million people who had a single dose vaccination, and 3,7 million people who were fully vaccinated and that it was the eight million who have not yet vaccinated and posed a risk to the rest.

Makhura said that the new variant has struck at higher learning institutions in Tshwane, where high numbers were being recorded but this has now spread to Joburg.

He said even though the province was not in a panicking mode despite souring numbers, there was concern about those who were not coming forward to get their jabs, adding that for now people will be persuaded to take the jab other than imposing a mandatory policy.