16,000 hospital beds identified at 52 quarantine sites across SA: De Lille

25 March 2020 - 16:40 By Andisiwe Makinana
Plans are at an advanced stage for Covid-19 quarantine sites throughout the country.
Plans are at an advanced stage for Covid-19 quarantine sites throughout the country.

More than 16,000 hospital beds have been identified at 52 quarantine sites across SA as part of the government's preparations for Friday's lockdown.

Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille said that, to date, her department has mapped properties that can be used as quarantine sites in all 44 districts and eight metros of the country — and that the work to identify more sites was ongoing.

So far, 16,373 beds have been identified that can be accommodated in the quarantine facilities, which are a combination of government and private facilities.

The department of public works and infrastructure is working with the department of health, which will ultimately sign off on whether the facility complies with the quarantine requirements.

De Lille said the sites they had identified still have to be assessed and approved by the health department.

The majority of them are under the custodianship of her department and are state-owned. They comprise offices, houses and multipurpose centres.

Addressing journalists in parliament on Wednesday, De Lille said the private sector has also offered properties such as hotels, holiday properties and hospitals across the country to be used as quarantine sites and these were also being assessed.

“The response has been overwhelming and, indeed, we are grateful for the generosity and solidarity being displayed by the private sectors,” she said.

The minister explained that there are strict criteria that need to be applied before confirming that a property can be used as a quarantine site.

She also revealed that her department was in the process of recruiting 20,400 expanded public works programme (EPWP) workers, who will work as support staff for the efforts to curb and contain the spread of the coronavirus.

These will be young people who will be recruited through non-profit organisations across the country to distribute sanitisers and soap, educate people on proper handwashing techniques, facilitate the construction of Tippy Taps in areas without handwashing facilities, conduct emergency treatment of water in areas without adequate supply, disinfect high-touch areas in high-risk areas, and conduct cleanup campaigns.