The Gauteng Department of Health has condemned the actions of some staff members at the Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg.

On Tuesday, nurses and other staff downed tools over the alleged lack of transparency at the hospital after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 and the fear of contracting the virus.

The department says all the staff member’s close contacts have been tested.

Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana says a case has been opened against those implicated.

“The hospital management has since opened a case against those involved in the locking of the gate and denying access to staff to serve patients and damage to property. The department can confirm that one staff member at Sterkfontein hospital had tested positive for COVID-19.”

“All 27 close contacts including staff and patients were tested and the results came back negative with the results of three people still pending. The process of testing the entire staff at the facility commenced almost two weeks ago. Sterkfontein Hospital and the Department of Health has adequate supply of personal protective clothing as things stand,”explains Kekana.

Current confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa

On Wednesday, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that the number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 18 003 and the total number of deaths has also increased to 339 with the total number of recoveries now standing at 8950.

INFOGRAPHIC: The total number of confirmed cases in SA

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First neonatal mortality

The country has also recorded its first neonatal mortality related to COVID-19.

“Sadly, we have recorded the first neonatal mortality related to COVID-19. This was a 2-day-old baby that was born prematurely and therefore, had lung difficulties which required ventilation support immediately after birth.”

“The mother had tested positive for COVID-19 and the child subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 as well. It is important to appreciate the complexities of the underlying condition of prematurity,” the statement explained.

The department has sent its condolences to the mother and those that cared for the baby.

In the video below, it is reported that the country has recorded its first infant COVID-19 related death