President calls for more beds to be readied in KZN to handle coronavirus cases
Ramaphosa was speaking on Tuesday after Premier Sihle Zikalala briefed him about the Covid-19 response in the province and its post-Level 5 recovery plan.
Zikalala said the provincial Health Department had assigned beds for patients under quarantine and isolation beds for those who tested positive.
Delivering the Covid-19 state of readiness in KZN, Zikalala said 2141 beds would be made available for isolation and 479 for quarantine.
Zikalala said the Health Department was setting up temporary facilities, renovating and reconfiguring existing clinical spaces in public health facilities and establishing field hospitals to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the increase in bed capacity was being done to meet isolation and quarantine safety requirements.
The newly-built, state-of-the-art Dr Pixley Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital in KwaMashu would also soon open to receive Covid-19 cases.
Ramaphosa, who was in the province on Tuesday to monitor KZN’s plans, said he was impressed, but that the number of beds should be increased for more infections expected later in the year.
The first case of Covid-19 in the country was identified in KZN, and by Tuesday there were 1 106 confirmed cases with 415 recoveries and 35 deaths in the province.
KZN has recorded the third-highest number of Covid-19 cases in SA.
“KZN is highly populated. I want to see an increase in the number of beds. KZN has prepared well for the challenges ahead of us in the fight against Covid-19, but the worst is still coming. We are going to have more infections,” said Ramaphosa.
He commended KZN for taking care of the distressed, the people who had had to stop working and stop their normal economic activities. KZN had used pillars such as the Sukumasakhe initiative to ensure that families and households in distress had food.
“The distribution of parcels to the needy is done in a way that does not cause people to lose their dignity. I commend you for putting people into shelters,” Ramaphosa said.
He singled out water as a major challenge, saying Covid-19 had given KZN the opportunity to do a lot more than in the past.
“We need to embark on long-term projects, especially in the lower Umkomaas, Ugu, Ilembe, Zululand and Umkhanyakude districts in addressing how we rebuild our economy.”
He said addressing hygiene was a key area of focus.
“We need to embark on campaigns to clean our townships, to clear our country of congested areas. There is no need for people to continue living in a squatter camp. Sanitisation of our taxi ranks and bus ranks is a major challenge to address,” said Ramaphosa.
He said many would lose jobs and the country needed to come up with a clear economic strategy that would empower women, youth and the black people. Covid-19 was an opportunity for a new beginning with new ways of functioning.
“KZN always comes up with new ideas. We should be able to do this through a new compact of labour, government and other actors. We must be visionary enough to set this compact as we rebuild the economy with new ways of management and in ethical and innovative ways. We have seen digital capabilities such as holding meetings without being physically there, locally and globally. We are going to go for gold in a big way,” Ramaphosa said.