VWSA, Germany collaborate to convert PE plant into Covid-19 medical facility
CAPE TOWN – The German government and Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) have joined forces in a public-private partnership to convert an old VWSA component plant in Korsten, Port Elizabeth, into a temporary medical facility for Covid-19 patients.
The facility, which will be converted in phases, could accommodate up to 4 000 beds once fully operational. This would include high-acuity patients who require oxygenation, a statement from VWSA said in a statement Tuesday.
German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Dr Gerd Müller said: "We will either beat Covid-19 worldwide together or not at all. That is why I support Volkswagen South Africa's plan to turn a currently unused factory into a facility for Covid-19 patients.
“Our contribution forms part of our worldwide Emergency Covid-19 Support Programme. It aims to strengthen and expand health infrastructure, provide emergency aid to stabilise regions in crisis and refugee camps, particularly in the Sahel region and the arc of crisis surrounding Syria, and safeguard jobs and food supply."
The VW plant, which is currently not in use, will be converted and used as an overflow medical facility. The planned conversion is the result of a collaboration between VWSA, Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Eastern Cape Department of Health.
VWSA will contribute R28 million to the project.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development would support the setup of the facility, and further activities in Nelson Mandela Bay, with R105m.
Out of this amount, protective gear would also be procured for regional tertiary hospitals, regional primary care clinics and 49 Covid-19 test centres.
The Eastern Cape Department of Health would manage and operate the facility.
The first phase would take six to eight weeks to be completed.
The conversion of the Volkswagen plant is the latest cooperation project between South Africa and Germany to address the Covid-19 crisis. Germany has already provided R40m to South Africa to acquire test kits and hospital equipment to fight Covid-19.