This is why South Africa is not building coronavirus hospitals, yet!

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Doctor holding a Covid-19 test tube (PHOTO: Taechit Taechamanodom/Getty Images)
Doctor holding a Covid-19 test tube (PHOTO: Taechit Taechamanodom/Getty Images)
Taechit Taechamanodom

We’re in the seventh day of the nationwide lockdown and still seeing an increase in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and fatalities in South Africa. As such, government is still looking for avenues to make sure we make progress in curbing the spread of the viral infection.

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Speaking at a Durban press conference on Tuesday, minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize confirmed the nationwide tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases stands at 1 353, with five fatalities. The minister also announced the implementation of the measures recently announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. In his address to the nation on Monday night, the president spoke of “a screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme on a huge scale”. Mkhize said mobile testing units will be deployed to virus hotspots across the country.

On the issue of why South Africa isn’t building temporary hospitals as we’ve seen done in countries like China, Germany and Nigeria, where they recently converted Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos into an isolation centre, the health minister stated they want to utilise existing government buildings if the need arises.

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“If we need to scale up, we will look at those options,” he said, noting that they have been approached by several private institutions like hotels who have offered beds in their facilities to help during this time. The fact remained that even though the option of procuring more beds is being explored, it was not an absolute necessity just yet.

Of the almost 40 000 tests conducted for Covid-19 in South Africa thus far, only 1 353 came back positive. Of the patients who tested positive only 55 have needed to be hospitalised, Mkhize said. “However, we want to be ready – ahead of the virus outburst – if the viral infection was to increase in any way.”

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