One hundred patients and 23 staff members at the Witrand Hospital in Potchefstroom, in the North West, have tested positive for coronavirus. The hospital looks after patients with mental and physical disabilities.
North West Health MEC Madoda Sambatha says the infection started with two patients in ward three and four. This is the first hospital in the province to record such an alarming number of coronavirus infections.
“Samples were then taken. This was prompted by the nature of patients inability to maintain social distancing and wearing masks,” says Sambatha.
The MEC says family members of those affected are being informed. Extra hospital beds are being made available to accommodate those that are ill.
“We are already making arrangements of 55 beds for isolation ward, which will be prepared for supply of oxygen as a matter of urgency. This is in case we were to need oxygen supply for any of the patients. For patients to be transferred to other facilities like Potchefstroom Hospital, Klerksdorp Tshepong and Westval, that clinical committee will decide which patient need to be taken out,” explains Sambatha.
Some health labour unions have called for the closure of the hospital until it safe for both patients and staff to return.
Below are the latest nationwide statistics of COVID-19 infections in SA:
Tensions simmer over PPEs
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in the province is concerned about the safety of its members. The union says its members are being threatened with disciplinary action when raising matters pertaining to a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
“Some of the issues if we are dealing with them the way the management is dealing with them, they are coming up with an issue of suspending our people when they verbalise this thing. This is the situation we faced with,” says Kedibone Mdolo, who is the Acting Secretary of DENOSA.
Sambatha has requested those that claim they have been victimised to approach the department for investigation.
“So the issue of the PPE and victimisation let me secretly be told who was victimised. I am going to visit that facility unannounced because they argue about PPE and I am going to get one victimising others. It is not our design that people do not have PPE. We want health professionals to be safe,” says Sambatha.
The department says the 23 employees who have contracted COVID-19 are under the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Below is a provincial breakdown of COVID-19 infections in SA: