With the rapid increase of Covid-19 cases in the Eastern Cape, it was unthinkable that the province had yet to build field hospitals across the region, DA MP Siviwe Gwarube said.
The Rev Dr Elizabeth Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni VWSA field hospital in Korsten is the only one in the province.
It was built as a result of VWSA appealing to the German government, which gave the automotive giant R80m to facilitate the conversion of one of its vacant plants.
Phase one of the facility hosts 1,400 beds and once phase three is completed about 3,300 beds will be available, 700 short of the original 4,000 beds planned.
Gwarube released a statement on Friday after a response by health minister Zweli Mkhize to parliamentary questions on how many field hospitals there were in the provinces and the hotspot regions.
Gwarube said Mkhize had revealed that Gauteng did not have a fully functional field hospital, but had a quarantine facility in Nasrec.
“Gauteng, the current epicentre of Covid-19, has recently launched the Nasrec facility which is operating as a quarantine facility as opposed to a field hospital.
“In parliament, the minister confirmed that this will soon include more equipment and more staff members to make it fully functional.
“The key difference between a quarantine facility and a field hospital is the presence of hospital beds, oxygen supply and staff members that can treat patients who may be stable enough not to be in ICU.
Currently, the Nasrec facility isn’t equipped to be a field hospital,” Gwarube said.
With 42,357 registered Covid-19 cases as of July 8, Gwarube said the Eastern Cape province was experiencing an explosion of cases and fatalities and the health system in the province “is on its knees with facilities having run out of space for patients”.
“Insufficient ambulances in areas like Nelson Mandela Bay metro and chronic staff shortages … It is unthinkable that the province is yet to build a field hospital in the various parts across the province to ease the pressure being experienced at facilities,” Gwarube said.
Earlier in the week, provincial health spokesperson Siyanda Manana revealed there were no more beds at public hospitals and there were two ambulances and two 22-seat buses to cater for Covid-19 patients in the metro.