With an unblemished recovery rate in two months of operation, the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium coronavirus quarantine facility is bringing hope at a time where virus infection figures continue to rise in the metro.
Doctor Siva Pillay, an adviser to the Eastern Cape health department and the Covid-19 joint operations committee in the Bay, said on Friday the stadium facility had proved to be of great value since it opened in April.
“We have had 346 Covid-19 positive patients through here since then, including people of all ages and people with comorbidities.
“Of those patients, 4% had to be admitted to hospital but none of them went on ventilators and it was not for any intensive treatment.
“The rest — 96% — was sent straight home after completing their quarantine. Overall 100% have recovered fully.”
The figures did not include the patient who slipped out of the stadium earlier in June, but besides this security lapse the figures sent out an important message, he said.
“There is a paranoia out there that goes if I test positive for the virus that means I’m going to die.
“But here at this facility we are showing that if you isolate properly and stay calm, not only will you most likely recover but, more broadly, this is the best way to flatten the curve.”
Everyone admitted to the facility was infected with the coronavirus and they were quarantined for a minimum of 14 days from the day they tested positive, he explained.
“The good news when you are discharged is that you have about 18 months’ immunity. In fact, internationally there is no recorded case of reinfection by Covid-19.”
Pillay said some people admitted at the stadium facility had initially been scared about being infected and also worried about being stigmatised.
“But once we reassured them, they became calm and relaxed, which is what you want. Anxiety is what is killing people by raising the heart rate and triggering floods of cytokines.”
Further towards keeping the patients in optimal good spirits, the management team was considering introducing a personal trainer who would lead them in isometric exercises on the field using the big screen, taking care not to increase heart rates, he said.
The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, Mandela Bay Development Agency and Eastern Cape health department spent about R2,3m on establishing the stadium quarantine facility.
It was geared around the stadium suites, with two to three beds in each suite, Pillay explained. A total of 250 beds were available at present but this could be upscaled to 1,500 beds.
On Thursday, police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said they were still searching for John Doch after he walked out of the quarantine facility on June 5.