Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says he is feeling some relief after inspecting the new 850-bed field hospital at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), which is set to be a modern, paperless facility to reduce Covid-19 transmission risks.
"I'm relieved," Winde said on Tuesday as he personally inspected the CTICC in a media tour.
In a fortnight, this widely-regarded jewel in the crown of South African tourism will be ready to accommodate up to 850 Covid-19 sufferers. It will be the largest temporary field hospital in the country, in a province where cases have soared quicker than in the rest of the country.
As of Monday, the Western Cape had 14 978 cases, of which 7221 people had recovered. In total, 318 people had succumbed to Covid-19 in the province.
Winde said of the "pivot" to transform the tourism facility into a medical care site: "It was quite impressive. In my job, every single day, I look at the numbers, I look at the numbers of infections climbing every single day, the hospitalisation numbers climbing, and you think to yourself: 'Are we prepared? Do we have sufficient bed space, et cetera.
"You walk in here – it is firstly a bit sobering, you see all these rows of beds, but it is also a relief to see. Just a few weeks [ago] we were talking about it – and two weeks later we are standing in this facility, with all these beds in place. It definitely gives you that sense of relief. And hope and recovery, which is what this place is all about."
The hospital is primarily positioned to offer "intermediate care" – which is defined as not critical or not requiring treatment in an intensive care unit, but serious, stable and too ill to be treated at home.
No files and pieces of paper
Winde said the systems in the new hospital were as hi-tech as possible to reduce the transmission of the virus through the manual transport of hard-copy patient files.
"Part of setting this place up, and understanding how to deal with Covid-19 – which is a virus – it doesn't make any sense to be bringing files and pieces of paper in here. So the tech team have worked on a paperless system.
"Your booking in, coming from another hospital, even the way you are managed at your bedside will be through tech. You are tagged with a number, the nurses are tagged on their digital devices - everything is handled digitally. Even the X-ray systems are new hi-tech digital technology. So it's a very modern hospital," Winde said.
"Normally, you would have expected to come (to the CTICC) to see a hi-tech show, or a jazz concert, or a business conference. Now we've got the biggest Covid-19 single dedicated hospital space in Africa."
The CTICC field hospital is due to be ready to receive patients from early June.