Everyone in the Western Cape who tests positive for Covid-19 will be confined to hospital if doctors are not satisfied they can self-isolate properly.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize announced the move at a media briefing on Saturday in Cape Town, the epicentre of SA’s Covid-19 outbreak.
If they were unable to prove they can self-isolate to the satisfaction of clinicians, “we are going to put them in field hospitals,” he said.
“People will be kept in hospital not because they need treatment but until they are past the point where they are infectious.”
One of the field hospitals, with 857 beds, is due to open in June at Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Premier Alan Winde said this week there would be two more field hospitals in Cape Town and one elsewhere in the province.
More quarantine beds would also be provided for people who have had contact with confirmed Covid-19 patients, he said.
Mkhize said the unusual aspect of the Western Cape outbreak was clusters of cases linked to factories and shops.
“They have been acted upon and now we must be vigilant to pick up any new cases that are coming through,” he said.
Between 24% and 30% of tests conducted in SA were being done in the Western Cape, he said, and they were producing a positivity rate of about 70%.
A shortage of coronavirus test kits was being experienced nationwide, and would be the subject of urgent talks at the health department.
In the meantime, the public and private sectors would work in close co-ordination over testing, and Mkhize said he would lead talks about the cost of testing in the private sector.
This is a developing story.