1000-bed Nasrec field hospital to help with Covid-19 cases
Pretoria - The giant Nasrec multi-functional facility in Joburg is to be used to help cope with the sharp and continuous increase of Covid-19 patients in Gauteng.
A temporary field hospital was constructed in the exhibition hall during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic and there are plans now to keep it open beyond the end of January.
Last year, the department adopted a wait-and-see approach but now that figures are rising and public and private hospitals are struggling with the demand for beds, Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced that it would be scaled up again.
“We are going back to Nasrec. Nasrec has 500 beds which will be able to deal with critical care and 500 for quarantine,” he said during a site visit to Steve Biko hospital in Pretoria on Monday, where tents have been erected to cope with the influx of patients.
He said there was increased demand for beds as people were coming to Gauteng from surrounding provinces, and public hospitals were now admitting in excess of 2 000 patients a day.
Photographs which circulated at the weekend showed the pressure at Steve Biko and prompted Makhura’s visit along with the MEC of Health, Dr Nomathemba Makgethi, and hospital chief executive Dr Mathabo Mathebula.
Makhura attributed the increase in cases in part to events such as the matric rage, where school-leavers from Gauteng descended on Ballito to party, and the return of holidaymakers to the province. He said the effects of holiday travel were already being felt in Limpopo and Mpumalanga due to cross-border travel. “Gauteng is so densely populated; it’s already a super-spreader event by design. I worry that cases in Gauteng are going to rise higher than the peaks in KZN and the Western Cape, as we have already seen in the first surge,” he said on Monday.
He warned that the second wave of Covid-19 was expected to hit Tshwane harder in the coming weeks, as holidaymakers return from their respective destinations.
An analysis before Christmas found that the largest number of students who attended the rage matric events from Gauteng came from Tshwane, the premier said.
He expressed concerns over the influx of holidaymakers heading home at the end of the festive season, which could lead to a spike in cases in the country over the next three to six weeks.