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CTICC to become hospital as planners predict bed shortage

The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) will be turned into a temporary COVID-19 hospital with up to 800 beds to help make up a predicted shortfall of acute beds in the region.

The Western Cape Cabinet agreed to use the CTICC as hospital after witnessing healthcare resources being placed under severe pressure as a result of the coronavirus outbreak elsewhere.

Scenario planning anticipates a shortfall of 1,000 beds in the province at the peak of the pandemic. The use of the CTICC will make up the majority of the shortfall, with the balance at other facilities.

The agreement allows the Western Cape Government to make use of the CTICC 1 building until 7 September, with an option to extend this on a month-to-month basis until the end of the year.

The CTICC has agreed to waive the hire cost of the venue, as part of its contribution to the fight against coronavirus. The temporary infrastructure build, operating and catering costs for the initial hire period will total approximately R47 million.

This amount excludes the costs that the Department of Health will incur in providing clinical equipment, oxygen, medication and temporary staff for the temporary hospital.

The inter-mediate care beds will cater for patients, presenting with milder clinical signs who need hospitalization and treatment including administration of oxygen. The CTICC will not provide for care for patients with more severe clinical signs, which will require intensive care treatment.

The site will be fitted out to be ready by the first week of June, well before the expected peak when these beds will be required.

The comprehensive layout of all the services which will be made available on site – including the beds, showers, nursing stations, support stations, physio stations, and bulk oxygen storage tank spaces, amongst others, – has already been prepared and as of today, is signed off for execution.

Taubie Motlhabane, CEO of the CTICC said: “During these extraordinary times, we welcome the opportunity for the CTICC to be part of the solution. The conversion of CTICC 1 into a temporary COVID-19 hospital facility will add to the resources needed in our healthcare system to fight this pandemic. We are proud to be part of the team.”

Meanwhile, the Nightingale Hospital at ExCeL London is set to be placed on standby and will no longer admit patients.

The hospital was created at the Docklands conference and exhibition centre in just nine days as part of the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, it, could resume operations again if needed.

The facility opened on 3 April with space for 4,000 beds and treated 51 patients in its first three weeks of operation. The BBC reported that there are currently fewer than 20 patients being treated there at present.

Charles Knight, CEO of the Nightingale London, said most of the hospital’s capacity had not been used.

In a briefing to staff, he said: “Thanks to the determination and sacrifice of Londoners in following the expert advice to stay home and save lives, we have not had to expand the Nightingale’s capacity beyond the first ward.

“It is likely that in the coming days we will not need to be admitting patients to the London Nightingale, while coronavirus in the capital remains under control.”