Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku has confirmed the provincial government is negotiating with conferencing venue Nasrec to turn it into a temporary treatment site for Covid-19 patients in need of urgent care.
"We are working with Nasrec to put up a bigger facility for hospitalisation purposes. When we talk about hospitalisation, we are referring to ICU, high care and a general ward," Masuku told News24 on Wednesday.
News24 understands the site will house around 2 000 beds.
The MEC, in a recording of the "One more thing with Tshidi Madia" podcast, said government was also looking for locations to be used to quarantine and isolate those infected with the novel coronavirus.
In South Africa, five people have died from the virus, while 1 353 positive cases have been recorded.
The country is on day six of a 21-day national lockdown, with people prohibited from leaving their homes except to buy food or medication. People who work in sectors deemed to be essential services are the only ones allowed to travel.
Gauteng, with 633 confirmed cases and one death, is the epicentre of the pandemic in the country. It is the economic heart of South Africa and the most populous province.
No 'thumb suck'
In discussing the handling of the crisis, Masuku said it approached the preparations in a logical manner, saying the government was not going to "thumb suck" its approach to the pandemic.
He said science and modelling were being used extensively to map the trajectory of the virus, claiming that, as it stands, it would be "impossible" for 10 000 individuals to require ICU beds all in one go.
"[The] models we are using now tells us that we might be needing 1 500 beds a day and those we are ready to cater for," said the MEC.
In a worst-case scenario, Masuku said, if things were to take a "catastrophic" turn, then there could be a need for 2 500 ICU beds at the same time.