Tembisa Hospital is severely overcrowded and only just recovering from antibiotic-resistant infections that caused the deaths of ten babies, the DA said. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - Tembisa Hospital, one of three institutions identified in Gauteng province to treat coronavirus cases, is severely overcrowded and only just recovering from antibiotic-resistant infections that caused the deaths of ten babies, the main opposition Democratic Alliance said on Monday.

Unlike the other two identified hospitals, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg and Steve Biko, Tembisa simply has no space to isolate any coronavirus patients, DA shadow member of the executive council for health Jack Bloom said in a statement.

"I recently saw for myself in the neonatal wards how “isolation” of klebsiella-infected babies was simply a curtained off section rather than a separate room," he said.

"It cannot be that Tembisa Hospital was chosen simply because it is near the O R Tambo airport where coronavirus-infected patients could enter the country."

South Africa's health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said last Friday his department was treating even the common flu with suspicion, as part of precautionary measures to keep the country free of coronavirus, which has spread to other countries since being first detected in Wuhan, China.

The World Health Organisation last Thursday declared the virus a global health emergency.

The death toll rose to at least 361 on Monday, with the Philippines becoming the first country outside China to confirm a fatality.

The DA's Bloom noted that five cases of the virus had been reported in neighbouring Botswana, warning: "The threat is real."

"The department (of health) needs to work with the private health sector to ensure that we really are geared up to isolate and treat any coronavirus cases in Gauteng," he added.

African News Agency (ANA)