Huge concert venue to become Covid-19 testing centre

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Huge concert venue to become Covid-19 testing centre

It’s well-equipped and tests will cost almost half of what other laboratories are charging

Journalist
The Northgate Dome has been offered to the Gift of the Givers team to use as a Covid-19 testing centre.
BEARING GIFTS The Northgate Dome has been offered to the Gift of the Givers team to use as a Covid-19 testing centre.
Image: Matthew Savides

As the novel coronavirus stalks the land, the futuristic-looking Ticketpro Dome in Northgate is to be temporarily repurposed as a Covid-19 testing centre.

Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a state of disaster last week, the Dome’s management offered the facility to local disaster-relief charity Gift of the Givers.

With all public events now cancelled and gatherings of more than 100 people banned for the next 90 days, the company has taken the decision to postpone all booked events and to offer the venue to any organisation that could make best use of the space, said Carol Weaving, who manages the Dome on behalf of Reed Exhibitions.

“We felt we have an obligation to the country,” Weaving said. “We thought it would be very beneficial to help SA and the community.”

The Dome has full wifi connectivity, extensive ablution facilities and enough space to even house a substantial field hospital.

“It’s a very well-equipped space,” said Weaving.

It’s a very well-equipped space.

Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said preparations were already under way to set up a Covid-19 testing facility at the venue.

“Providing affordable testing is another essential aspect of the management process,” he said.

The charity, which has made its reputation from its work in disaster areas such as Sudan, Syria and Yemen, already has one Covid-19 testing centre operating at Roshnee in Johannesburg.

Urgent discussions were under way to open more test facilities elsewhere in SA.

Tests cost R750 per person, almost half of what other laboratories are charging.

While there is a possibility that the Dome could become a quarantine centre if coronavirus cases mushroom, it was unlikely that it would be used as a field hospital, Sooliman said.

“It would be better to have tents in the grounds of hospitals,” he said.

Once the crisis was over, Weaving said the Dome would be given “a deep clean” before reopening its doors.

“At the end of the day we are going to go back to business,” she said. “But right now we need a bit of good news.”