De Lille on coronavirus in SA: Govt properties available for use as quarantine sites

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille. (Jan Gerber, News24)
Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille on Thursday announced that her department had identified 37 state-owned properties which could be converted into quarantine sites should the need arise.

"Some of these sites will be available to people living in informal settlements, where there are no such facilities," De Lille said in a statement in which she outlined her department's activities after President Cyril Ramaphosa had declared a national state of disaster.

"Teams from our head office and in all regional offices have been visiting all districts to assess properties and this process is ongoing. Some of these sites have already been communicated to the Minister of Health."

De Lille's department had also done a site inspection with the SA National Defence Force at the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe, which revealed that a fence needed to be erected.

"This is to ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country and vice versa," she said.

The fence will be 40km long, or 20km on either side of the border post, and will be 1.8 metres high.

The Disaster Act allowed De Lille to invoke emergency procurement procedures - and the site had already been handed over to the appointed contractor. The project, to be completed in a month, would cost R37.2 million.

De Lille said she was also in close contact with provincial public works departments to determine whether they had properties available for possible quarantine sites.

The Free State department said it had two hospitals - Trompsburg and Ladybrand - available "as these are currently being used below capacity".

READ | The terrifying coronavirus projections that pushed government into lockdown action

The KwaZulu-Natal department had identified sites in Durban North, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay and Port Shepstone, while Limpopo would avail sites in Waterberg, Vhembe, Capricorn and Mopani districts.

In the North West, there were more than 130 sites, including four hospitals, available to be used as possible quarantine sites.

De Lille said she had been in contact with all major property associations and built environment groups, and had been assured that their members were putting in place sanitary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

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