No hospital will be big enough to fight the Covid-19 pandemic if the public don’t take the necessary precautions to avoid infection, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said in Khayelitsha on Monday.
Dr Mkhize was speaking at the official opening of a Covid-19 field hospital that Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) has set up at the Thusong Centre.
The 64-bed acute-care facility will help to take the pressure off the local day hospital.
Dr Mkhize was accompanied by Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo and various officials.
Field hospitals and quarantine sites are being set up countrywide as the Covid-19 crisis deepens.
As of Tuesday, there were 35 812 cases in the country with 755 deaths. The Western Cape accounts for two thirds of the national total with 24 564 cases as at 1pm yesterday, Wednesday June 3 and 601 deaths.
Dr Mkhize said it was important for field hospitals to be close to the communities they served so that people could get treated near their homes.
The families of the sick would be less anxious, he said, if they knew where their loved ones were being treated.
Government could only overcome the killer virus, he said, with the support of the public, and people needed to follow Covid-19 safety measures to avoid falling ill. “We are going to live with this disease for a long time, and therefore we must adjust to that. Advocacy and behavioural change must happen, and if we don’t have that these facilities mean nothing as they could be filled in two days.
“If we do not insist on prevention, this facility would be too small. We do not want patients here, we want the prevention to happen in the community. We now have demonstrated unity and cooperation,” he said.
MSF Khayelitsha Covid-19 project coordinator, Eric Goemaere, said the facility would support the Khayelitsha day hospital.
All the patients transferred to the field hospital would go through the day hospital, he said, but it would not cater for intensive-care or critical patients.
Khayelitsha Health Forum chairperson Mzanyawa Ndibhongo said they were grateful for the facility.