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Field hospitals to be closed

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This is as result of the drop in Covid-19 infections.

File image. Picture: Armand Hough African News Agency

COVID-19 field hospitals across the country will be dismantled due to a substantial drop in the number of new infections and positive cases in the country.

Gauteng’s Nasrec’s field hospitals will be the last to be phased out as the province continues to top the lists of the highest number of active cases in the country followed by KwaZulu-Natal.

This was revealed by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize at a virtual meeting organised by the Gauteng General Practitioners Collaboration (GGPC) in the fight against Covid-19 on Monday night.

Dr Mkhize was the keynote speaker along with Prof Salim Abdool Karim – chair of the Presidential Advisory committee on Covid-19.

The Health Minister told his audience that all equipment including ventilators and other medical objects used to fight the pandemic will be dispatched to various medical facilities for further usage.

Mkhize’s announcement coincided with the Solidarity Fund delivering additional funding of R405m to go towards the purchase of critical healthcare equipment for the public hospital system in the hotspots of Gauteng, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.

The Solidarity Fund said that was in response to the expected surge in hospital admissions caused by Covid-19 that was predicted to peak in late August. A further R250m was approved for the local production of up to 20 000 non-invasive C-PAP ventilators in support of the National Ventilator Project.

Earmarked to be delivered by the end of August, the first batch of ventilators have been handed over ahead of schedule.

Solidarity Fund CEO Nomkhitha Nqweni revealed that locally and globally, medical institutions have struggled to find and supply the necessary equipment to treat Covid-19 patients, and ventilators have been high on their list of critical equipment.

“To meet the inevitable demand for this life-saving equipment, and in anticipation of a global shortage, our National Government set up the National Ventilation Project with the aim of rapidly facilitating local development and manufacturing of thousands of non-invasive ventilators,” Nqweni said.

She further said: “As we traverse the predicted peak of the Covid-19 infection in South Africa, it is important that we accelerate our efforts to arm the medical practitioners with the equipment that they need. We are gratified that the first instalment of ventilators is being distributed ahead of schedule, and are committed to ensuring the speedy dispatch of all ventilators to medical facilities on the frontline of the fight against this pandemic.”

At the GGPC virtual meeting, both Mkhize and Karim have warned South Africans to remain vigilant against the virus despite the drop in the number of Covid-19 positive cases.

Mkhize attributed the decline figures to the collaborative workers between health workers in the private and public sectors.

“We had no formula to fight the virus. We had to learn when we transversed the path of the virus. We were all in this together,” Mkhize said.

He also praised the frontline workers for their dedication to save lives despite being prone to be exposed to the deadly virus.

“The virus has opened opportunities for new ideas. The number of people who have recovered now stands at 84%,” Mkhize said.

Prof Karim corroborated his version saying fewer people were not showing signs of coronavirus. He, however, warned that people should not start to stop using masks, washing their hands for now. According to Prof Karim, the National Health Laboratory Services were not experiencing backlogs in testing and said it was proof of a decline of cases in South Africa.

“We are over the plateau and now on the decline. We have to remain vigilant because of the possibility of the second surge,” Prof Karim said.

He mentioned countries like New Zealand which had announced the elimination of the virus but that New Zealand, Vietnam, South Korea and Singapore were experiencing a massive increase in cases of Covid-19.