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FNB Stadium to be turned into a treatment centre for COVID-19 patients

It joins the Nasrec Expo Centre in being revamped to help accommodate patients who have contracted the coronavirus.

An arial view of Soccer City in Soweto. Picture: Aki Anastasiou/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The iconic FNB Stadium is set to be redesigned into a 1,500 bed Temporary Severe Acute Respiratory Infections Treatment Centre to help cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Dubbed Soccer City at the time, it was the flagship venue during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, hosting the two biggest matches of the tournament - the opening game and the final.

It joins the Nasrec Expo Centre in being revamped to help accommodate patients who have contracted COVID-19.

Jean Grobler, Director at Boogertman and Partners (the company that designed the stadium), said the layout of the venue lends itself very well to creating space for patients, medical staff and suppliers to move through a treatment system while keeping the distancing needed to minimise the risk of increased infection.

“From basement level to the upper suite levels each tier of the stadium was assigned a role in the flow of treatment from testing and patient assessment to high care in ICU units”, he said.

Just days after the lockdown was announced last month, a team of professionals including architects, hospital-design specialists, interior and urban designers responded to a 72-hour turnaround brief to turn the stadium into a field hospital.

The team worked in lockdown and used Zoom for design collaborations.

Grobler added that “the final proposal is a holistic solution that included adjusting a NHS patient flow process from admission to treatment and escalation to ICU wards if needed, right through to mortuaries and provisions for the safety, protection and rest areas for medical staff. Provision of facilities for patients was divided into three categories of risk with the appropriate shielding and cubicles used for those at the highest need of care and intubation with beds and less intensive medical facilities provided for patients who needed to be monitored to assess their level of response to the COVD19 infection.”

If the facility operates at full capacity, 4,500 people, from patients to medical specialists and support staff, can be accommodated.