A dreary winter awaits the country if people do not change their behavior because the increase in coronavirus infections indicates a storm, says Dr. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Since the first virus case in the country was reported 107 days ago, Covid-19 claimed nearly 2,000 lives. By Tuesday, more than 101,000 positive cases had been reported and 53,444 people were recovering, while at least 4,000 new infections a day had been reported in the past few days, Mkhize said in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
He handed over to Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni who spoke about the Field Hospital, which can accommodate 1 485 patients.
The hospital is located in a building in Bennet Road, Korsten, which until December had been used by Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) for the manufacture of components before it moved to a new plant.
VWSA responded to Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s plea and a R107m donation from the German government, which was used to turn this plant into a field hospital.
Within seven weeks of the announcement by Thomas Schaefer, chairman and managing director of VWSA, phase 1 out of 3 was ready for handover on Tuesday.
“Many people have doubted whether we will be able to set up a field hospital within weeks, as was done in China, but through collaboration we have proven that nothing can stop us from achieving something that can save people’s lives,” Mkhize said.
By Tuesday, 2,888 people in South Africa were in isolation in general halls, more than 500 were in emergency units and 262 were in high-care units, of whom 566 were on oxygen and 218 on ventilators.
Although the figures are lower than the estimated 20%, Mkhize warns that the country cannot relax its efforts to combat the virus. People need to change their behavior and start acting responsibly and preventively, especially in view of the storm of infections expected this winter.
Failure to do so would require much more beds in hospitals and field hospitals, he warns.
Schaefer said they will begin work on the final two phases of the field hospital on Friday, which will eventually have 3,300 beds with oxygen reticulation.
VWSA also contributed about R25m for the provision of comfort and the purchase of protective clothing for the staff of local hospitals, clinics and Covid-19 testing centers.
Sindiswa Gomba, MEC for Health in the Eastern Cape, thanked the car company for the infrastructure, especially as it will be able to be used after the pandemic.
She said the field hospital would help with the shortage of hospital beds and help the province to meet this challenge, especially in the metro where the infection rate is high.
“In the phase of the virus now, we believe that everyone who tests positive must be removed from the community in order to stop the spreading effect of the virus. That is why we now need as much insulation as possible. ”