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Staff Reporter

The Bloemfontein Showgrounds could be converted into a makeshift 1 000-bed hospital to treat coronavirus patients.

The Provincial Coronavirus Command Council, led by the Premier Sisi Ntombela, today visited the venue to assess how it could be used as a temporary hospital as the Free State prepares for the expected spike in COVID-19 cases.

“As the country as a whole currently faces a spike in coronavirus cases, the premier has indicated that it remains the responsibility of government to be proactive in fighting the global pandemic, and put measures in places to curb the spread of the virus and mitigate its impact on society,” read part of the statement released by the premier’s office.

If it were to become a hospital, it could contain up to 1 000 beds and ease the strain on hospitals when the COVID-19 outbreak reaches its peak in the Free State.

The Bloemfontein Showgrounds is a multi-purpose venue which comprises of several rooms, halls and outside areas of varying sizes and functionalities.

It usually hosts a variety of conferences and trade events such as the Bloem Show or ‘Bloem Skou’.

But with major events being cancelled all around the world it joins countless other large venues in having no events to host.

During today’s site tour, the Provincial Coronavirus Command Council, which consists of members of the provincial government’s Executive Council, received a detailed briefing on the potential field hospital and inspected the various facilities within the precinct.

The premier took the opportunity to urge members of the community to take extra caution during this winter period and minimize the risk of infection by following basic personal hygiene habits, such as the regular washing of hands, sanitising, wearing face cloth masks when in public and practicing social distancing.

“As economic activity has gradually opened up, and more outdoor activity has resumed, the risk of infection will inevitably increase,” Ntombela said.

“We call upon all our citizens, young and old, to also take active personal responsibility for their wellbeing, and remain safe during this period.

“We shall overcome this pandemic.”

According to the latest statistics, the Free State has recorded 2 803 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

There have been 565 recoveries and 19 deaths, leaving the province with 2 219 active cases.

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