Eastern Cape to turn museums, hostels into field hospitals to combat risky self-isolation behaviour

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane
PHOTO: GCIS
  • "Inappropriate, dangerous" behaviour by people who self-isolate at home prompted the Eastern Cape to look at opening state isolation facilities.
  • Out of 17 people who tested positive at a small village, only eight were taken into quarantine. The other nine fought their way out.
  • The health department is calling for reinforcement to help them convince reluctant people to go to state facilities.


The Eastern Cape government plans to turn 18 state-owned properties, such as museums and hostels, into field hospitals after they found that people engaged in risky behaviour while self-isolating.

On Tuesday, Premier Oscar Mabuyane announced that the province was looking at ways to ensure that less people put their communities at risk by engaging in "inappropriate and dangerous" behaviour. He said the provincial coronavirus command council made the decision in order to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Mabuyane said: "Looking at the numbers of people in self-isolation in our province, we have taken a decision that in order to avoid the risk associated with inappropriate and dangerous behaviour by some of the people self-isolating in their homes, more positive cases should be isolated under supervision for us to reduce local spread and avoid a rapid increase in the positive caseload.

"We have also taken a decision to convert 18 state-owned facilities, like museums, schools' hostels, nursing colleges [and] training centres in all districts and metropolitan municipal areas of our province, into field hospitals to give us 2 080 beds, which include 218 high care beds. We plan to have these field hospitals ready soon so that we are able to accommodate more people who will be needing hospitalisation and isolation."

Mabuyane made the announcement on Tuesday as the country marked 103 days of lockdown. Covid-19 is starting to peak in the Eastern Cape.

'Resistance from the community'

There are 38 081 people in the province who are infected and 5 528 deaths.

Luvuyo Bayeni, technical advisor to the Eastern Cape Health MEC, told News24 on Tuesday that the department had to rope in the police in some communities because their plans to put people under state quarantine were often met with strong resistance.

"Last month we were in Blue Crane municipality in Cookhouse where 17 people tested positive. Even with the help of the police, we only managed to take eight with us to the Nelson Mandela stadium isolation facility. Others there fought their way out of the plan.

"There is a lot of resistance from the community. We need to take stronger measures and get reinforcement of police officers. We have reports that some people break the self-isolation rules at home. It's dangerous. They can devastate large communities."

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