The Nasrec which is usually used to host big events is currently being used to help cope with the sharp and continuous increase of Covid-19 patients in Gauteng. During the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, a temporary field hospital was constructed in the exhibition hall and there are plans now to keep it open beyond the end of January.
Last year, the department adopted a wait-and-see approach but now that figures are rising and public and private hospitals are struggling with the demand for beds, Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced that it would be scaled up again.
Following the viewing of photographs which circulated at the weekend showed the pressure at Steve Biko Hospital situated in Pretoria, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and MEC of Health, Dr Nomathemba Makgethi and hospital chief executive Dr Mathabo Mathebula were prompted to visit the hospital who found that tents had been erected to cope with the influx of patients.
Makura said there was increased demand for beds as people were coming to Gauteng from surrounding provinces, and public hospitals were now admitting in excess of 2 000 patients a day.“We are going back to Nasrec. Nasrec has 500 beds which will be able to deal with critical care and 500 for quarantine,” he said.
The Premier attributed the increase in cases in part to events such as the matric rage, where school-leavers from Gauteng descended on Ballito to party, and the return of holidaymakers to the province. He said the effects of holiday travel were already being felt in Limpopo and Mpumalanga due to cross-border travel.
“Gauteng is so densely populated; it’s already a super-spreader event by design. I worry that cases in Gauteng are going to rise higher than the peaks in KZN and the Western Cape, as we have already seen in the first surge,” he added.
He warned that the second wave of Covid-19 was expected to hit Tshwane harder in the coming weeks, as holidaymakers return from their respective destinations.