The continued spread of the coronavirus in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, in the Eastern Cape, is straining medical services in the metro as hospitals are running out of beds to treat COVID-19 patients.

The 2010 Soccer World Cup hospital bed back-up project has now been given a new lease of life, providing 73 extra beds at the Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth to treat the patients.

The hospital has converted a basement parking lot into a fully functional hospital ward.

“It has come in very handy now when we wanted more more beds as response to COVID-19 pandemic. We found this structure which was half prepared to be converted to a ward with the assistance of the Department of Public Works we managed to convert this to habitable ward as it is now,” says Dr Mthandeki Xamlashe, Livingstone Hospital Acting CEO.

The municipality has become the epicentre for coronavirus infections in the country.

Earlier, Acting Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Tshonono Buyeye, said that stricter law enforcement has started in the metro.

“We have to do things differently. We can’t be or want to be popular at a time where people are losing their lives. So, hence we have emphasised with our law enforcement. Make the hard decisions. Don’t buy face and force the law as it is. The regulations are there for everybody. This is the guideline. If people can’t meet the guideline what happens is what we are currently seeing now,” says Buyeye.

Nelson Mandela Bay Metro becomes the epicentre for COVID-19 infections in SA:

COVID-19 numbers in South Africa

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country now stands at 762 763.

In a statement, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has expressed concern that the national positivity rate reached 12% for the second time this week.

“Ideally, the positivity rate should be 10% or less and we have been able to maintain this since 6 September 2020,” says Dr Mkhize.

The Minister says the country has recorded 88 new deaths; bringing total deaths to 20 759. He has noted with concern the rising number of death cases recorded in the Eastern Cape.