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Pretoria – Brace yourself! Gauteng is in the eye of the Covid-19 storm.

The sharp and continuous increase of Covid-19 patients at public and private hospitals has revived the once-overlooked Nasrec Covid-19 centre.

The Nasrec facility in Johannesburg was one of four facilities that were contracted by the provincial government to be used for isolation and the quarantine of Covid-19-positive patients in the province.

The other sites were Telkom in Olifantsfontein, Transnet in Esselen Park and Eskom in Midrand.

Before the second wave occurred, the Health Department said the Nasrec field hospital would remain open until January, while it closed the other three quarantine/isolation sites.

Last year Department of Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said Nasrec would not close because the threat of Covid-19 infections had not decreased in the province for the moment.

“Nasrec will only close after January 2021, which is a key milestone post the festive season. The department will be monitoring the festive season period closely as it relates to Covid-19 infections.”

But yesterday Premier David Makhura backtracked and said they would be using the Nasrec field hospital again, after it was downscaled when other field hospitals were closed. He said the province was also looking again at the contracts which were in place during the first wave of the pandemic.

“We are going back to Nasrec. Our health-care system was able to cope during the first wave. As we speak now, Nasrec has 500 beds which will be able to deal with critical care and 500 for quarantine,” he said.

He said more patients were in need of critical care, with some from the neighbouring provinces of Limpopo, the North West and Mpumalanga. He said public hospitals were now admitting in excess of 2 000 patients daily, and Tshwane was one of the Covid-19 hot spots in the province.

The Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane has had to install two more fever tents after it experienced a big influx of patients suspected of having Covid-19.

From entrance 4 of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, it is evident that the hospital is under siege. Dozens of oxygen cylinders and two huge tents indicate the overflow of Covid-19 patients.

The tents accommodate patients from Limpopo, the North West and Mpumalanga.

Early last year, the Tshwane District Hospital was converted into a Covid-19 treatment facility, in partnership with the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, to increase the number of beds designated for virus patients.

But despite early interventions, this facility is now under additional pressure, with many patients presenting symptoms that can only be treated in certain hospitals.

Makhura said yesterday morning that 95 beds at the Tshwane hospital were dedicated to Covid-19 patients, with 43 of those beds currently occupied.

The Steve Biko Academic Hospital emergency unit entrance has an area that has a roof designed to handle especially patients in the priority 3 emergency category.

The Health Department confirmed that photos doing the rounds on social media were of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital. The photos show a packed hospital, with some patients on the hospital roof.

The R350 million Nasrec Centre is expected to accommodate more than 2200 beds as well as isolation rooms equipped with a bed, shower, toilet, basin and a panic button. For leisure, each room has a desk, chair and TV set.


Article written by: Sakhile Ndlazi

Photo credit: Daily Maverick


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