KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has called on people not to stigmatise those infected with the coronavirus. Simelane-Zulu was reacting to a protest by residents of Ntunjambili near Kranskop who took to the streets demanding the removal of COVID-19 patients from a local hospital.

On Thursday, angry residents blocked the road with burning rubble and rocks  defying lockdown regulations.

Ntunjambili Hospital is a COVID19-designated facility for all areas under the ILembe District, including Kranskop.

Simelane-Zulu has appealed for solidarity.

“The Department of Health has had to ensure that each and every district is ready with its own facilities so that people who are infected from that particular district are treated within that district. If now people of Ntunjambili decide that they don’t want people who are infected with COVID -19 in their facility, it literally means that the people from that district will not have a hospital to go to,” says Simelane-Zulu.

She says what the resident do not realise is that if the hospital would not be allowed to treat COVID-19, the residents themselves may have nowhere to go in the event they should need treatment.

“But beyond that it means the people from Ntunjambili who get infected will not be treated in any other hospital because they themselves are saying they don’t want people that are infected. There is no hospital that is not going to have a patient that is COVID-19 positive at any time. COVID-19 cannot be a virus that is stigmatised. Anyone of us, anyone of them can be infected with this virus and we must understand that all of us will deserve the treatment that is available,” she said.

Demands for COVID-19 patients to be removed

Police have used rubber bullets to disperse angry community members protesting outside Ntunjambili Hospital in Kranskop on the KwaZulu-Natal midlands.

“What angered the community is that they brought people who have coronavirus without notifying the community members. They did not involve us. They should have involved us so that we could understand reasons behind bringing these people here,” said one resident.

In the video below, SABC’s Ayanda Mhlongo reports on community members’s concerns: