The Limpopo Health Department is confident that it will be able to care for coronavirus patients as the province’s infection rate is expected to surge in the coming weeks. This is according to Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba, who, together with Premier Stan Mathabatha, attended a function to mark the conversion of the Modimolle Multi-Drug Resistant TB Hospital into a COVID-19 High Care Facility.
At its full capacity, the facility will have 27 ventilators. These will complement the 54 that Limpopo currently has at the Pietersburg Provincial Hospital in Polokwane.
The Modimolle facility has also expanded the number of beds in the province for COVID-19 patients to 310.
Currently, 14 COVID-19 patients have been hospitalised, and one is on a ventilator at the Pietersburg Hospital. MEC Ramathuba says they are confident about their ability to treat more patients, should the need arise.
“All these 89 beds have been fitted with high flow oxygen. We divided them into 27 that we are going to be equipping them with ventilators. Currently, we have got 14 patients that have been admitted and only one requires ventilation, the rest require oxygen. So, I can with confidence tell my Premier that you are ready for any challenges that Limpopo can be facing in terms of numbers.”
Developing existing facilities
Premier Stan Mathabatha says they decided to improve existing facilities for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, instead of setting up a field hospital.
“Hence we said we are not going to come up with temporary hospitals because one we cannot afford that, two it is because we want to use the resources we have optimally. We are going to develop the existing facilities and top up with permanent features. All the monies that come to this province for this COVID-19 will be utilised in such a way that we don’t want to lose even a cent to anything including corruption.”
Limpopo has recorded 5 746 coronavirus cases and 64 deaths since April. Mathabatha says the province has been able to keep the infection rate slightly below scientific projections due to their community awareness strategy.
“We had made projections that we would be where we are today, though even lower because of the push back strategy which we had when we started. It assisted us in terms of conscientising our people.”
Water and sanitation challenges
Mathabatha adds that the province needs at least four more weeks to resolve outstanding water and sanitation challenges at some schools to phase in more grades of learners.
“For schools, we are not yet ready. In four weeks or so we will be taking our kids back to school depending on the readiness of our situation. Our biggest problem in the province is sanitation and water, once we get that right, we will then say we are ready to take all our kids back to school because it will remain useless to come up with temporary classrooms when you don’t have sufficient sanitation facilities and enough water.”
Drug-resistant TB patients from the Modimolle facility have been moved to TB units at other hospitals.