BMW SA and the German government are to spend R76m to equip hospitals and clinics in SA to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Besides providing ambulances and other emergency vehicles, the R76m will upgrade medical facilities, supply medical and testing equipment and provide hundreds of extra beds for Covid-19 patients.
The project will benefit eight hospitals and four community clinics in Gauteng, North West and Limpopo. A major share will be spent in Soshanguve, the Tshwane township near BMW SA’s Rosslyn vehicle assembly plant.
At the Dr George Mukhari Hospital there, 300 beds will be added and emergency facilities upgraded.
BMW SA is providing R47.7m, with the rest coming from the German ministry of economic co-operation and development. The partners signed an agreement on Monday afternoon.
SA motor companies have been at the forefront of private-sector efforts to support the fight against Covid-19. During the industry lockdown, several companies adapted idle machinery to manufacture a range of medical equipment, including face masks and ventilators.
Last week Volkswagen SA handed over the first phase of a project that will eventually be able to accommodate more than 3,000 high-care Covid-19 patients requiring oxygenation. The company is converting a former factory near Port Elizabeth into a field hospital.
BMW SA MD Tim Abbott said additional support for the fight against Covid-19 was urgently needed. “Hospitals are starting to fill up with victims of this virus,” he said. “It is inevitable that it will spread faster and further.”
A BMW SA medical doctor will oversee the project. “She will work on it full-time to ensure the money is spent to the best effect and that equipment gets to the people that need it,” Abbott said.
He confirmed that, despite strict social distancing and other health measures, the Rosslyn assembly plant had recorded a number of Covid-19 cases among workers. However, there were no pockets of infection and the impact on production, which is well below normal levels, had been minimal.