Jul 2020 2nd Edition

Field hospital helps patients beat COVID-19

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

A field quarantine hospital in Port Elizabeth helped a woman diagnosed with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) recover speedily. Babalwa Posa says a field quarantine hospital in Port Elizabeth helped with speeding up her recovery.

Babalwa Poswa (33) from Cradock in the Eastern Cape says that being at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium hospital fast tracked her recovery. The Department of Correctional Services official says that she was placed in an isolation unit which prevented her from spreading the virus while providing the treatment she needed.

Having contracted the virus from her cousin, Poswa chose to isolate at the hospital rather than remain at her work quarters. “We share bathrooms in the staff residential area, there was a high risk that I could spread the virus and I did not want to be responsible for that,” Poswa says.

Unfortunately, by the time Poswa learned of her COVID-19 status, her live-in partner had already been infected. Poswa’s partner was also admitted to the field hospital.

Patients at the 213-bed quarantine hospital have health checks done twice daily and receive three meals a day. According to Poswa, there were several very sick patients in the hospital while she was there, and all made a full recovery. 

She says that as patients, they drew strength from being around other people diagnosed with COVID-19. “Since there is no cure for the virus, one needs to be mentally strong and focused as the body fights the virus,” says Poswa.

She explains that the hospital has strict protocols to make sure the virus does not spread. Patients at the hospital have to wear a mask at all times. They are allowed to go outside, but not all at the same time.

The hospital offers counselling for patients who find it hard to cope with their diagnosis or with quarantine.

According to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson Mamela Ndamase on 28 June, the hospital had admitted 543 patients, of which 403 had recovered and were discharged.  


  • A number of field hospitals have been set up around the country to ensure that government is able to accommodate all patients needing to be treated or quarantined.
  • The Eastern Cape also has the 1000-bed Rev. Dr Elizabeth Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni Field Hospital which stemmed from a partnership between Volkswagen and the Department of Health.
  • The Western Cape has converted the Cape Town International Convention Centre into an 800-bed COVID-19 hospital. 
  • In Gauteng, the Johannesburg Expo Centre is now a COVID-19 healthcare centre that can accommodate 2 200 patients.
  • The KwaZulu-Natal health department has converted a part of Clairwood Hospital into a separate facility for admitting COVID-19 patients. The new wing has 145 beds and 40 isolation units.
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