Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says he often wakes up in the middle of the night with a knot in his stomach.
“You wonder if you are doing enough, are you well enough prepared [to deal with the coronavirus],” Winde admitted at the opening of a 300-bed quarantine site in Pinelands on Wednesday.
“We are trying to find the balance while working really hard to make sure that we make the right decisions in our health response and in opening up our economy. This while finding ways to create that new normal.”
But walking through the Cape Town International Convention Centre as its being transformed into a 850-bed field hospital and, now the fully refurbished quarantine site donated by Old Mutual for the use of the Western Cape government eases that tension, Winde said.
“You walk into a facility like [the CTICC] and that knot in your stomach just releases a little bit, because you see that we are coming together and making a difference. We’re better prepared.”
According to Wednesday’s provincial statistics, 16 551 people have tested positive for the virus, up by 795 from Tuesday.
A total of 8 504 have recovered, while 387 have died.
Western Cape ‘under pressure’
“We in the Western Cape are under pressure,” Winde said, saying the province was seen as the “frontrunner” as it sees the impact of the coronavirus sooner than the rest of SA.
“I think that is an opportunity for our country because at least it’s not all happening in one place at once. We can learn, because we are learning right now from other parts of the world. We are teaching each other, in our region and in our country.
“But we have to have that responsibility of making sure that we manage that curve so that we can get to the other side.”
On Wednesday, Old Mutual handed over a fully refurbished 300-bed facility. Situated in Forest Drive, Pinelands, the former training centre and club house is located at the MuPine Golf Club.
It was unoccupied and earmarked for possible future repurposing for accommodation for Old Mutual employees.
“It is testimony to the fact that we are in this fight together – that ultimately, this is not a battle to be won by the state or by the private sector, but indeed one that calls on all of us to contribute, whether it is the government, private business, NGOs and ultimately each and every citizen of our country,” he said.
Meanwhile, Winde, who called for the Western Cape to move down to a Level 3 lockdown despite the high infection rate, said it would be pointless to have the country on different alert levels.
“It’s going to be chaos,” he said.
“We need to open up the economy, but we have to do it with the new normal in mind and with the behavioural change in place.
“Every one of us has the responsibility to make sure social distancing is kept, that we follow the rules of hygiene and hand sanitisers and masks, and that we really work hard in making sure that we are opening up our economy in a responsible way.”
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize clarified on Wednesday that the whole country would move to Level 3 on 1 June.