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Masuku accuses DA’s Jack Bloom of misleading public over Nasrec hospital costs

The suspended health MEC gave Bloom 24 hours to retract his statement regarding the admission of patients at the Nasrec field hospital.

FILE: Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku addressing the media in Johannesburg during a press briefing on 17 July 2020. Picture: @GautengProvince/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku has threatened the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) spokesperson on health in the province, Jack Bloom, with legal action following his remarks on alleged financial mismanagement at the province’s largest COVID-19 facility.

The suspended MEC gave Bloom 24 hours to retract his statement regarding the admission of patients at the Nasrec field hospital.

The facility, which Bloom said in a statement on Wednesday cost about R350 million, was meant to accommodate at least 1,500 patients.

“According to a presentation made to the Gauteng Legislature’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature, the Nasrec field hospital was commissioned on 15 June this year and has so far admitted 604 patients for quarantine and isolation, and 96 patients for intermediate care including oxygen.

“The total bed capacity is 1,500 but there were only 25 patients as of 28 August 2020. The facility has cost about R350 million in total, which means that R500,000 has been spent on each patient,” Bloom said.

Masuku accused Bloom of spreading false information.

The MEC, who has been at the centre of a COVID-19 corruption storm, said not only were Bloom’s remarks factually inaccurate but also aimed to mislead the public and tarnish his image.

Defending the provincial government’s decision to set up makeshift hospitals, Masuku said they had to plan for the worst-case scenario in order to prevent massive deaths.

He said had South Africa experienced a sharp curve in infections, the country would be in a better position to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic.

The facility had since reduced bed capacity, while the provincial government discontinued further construction of field hospitals.

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