The Department of Health in the Eastern Cape has strongly condemned health care practitioners who refuse to attend to COVID-19 patients.

Komga Hospital nurses allegedly refused to treat a positive patient from King William’s Town that was sent to their hospital, claiming that they were scared.

The department says it is constitutionally a fundamental right that every South African should have access to health care services regardless of their residential area.

It also says every practitioner signed an oath to look after patients.

In this video, the stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients in the Eastern Cape is discussed

“There is not a institution of the state even in the private sector which could refuse a patient who comes in the institution. It is absolutely unacceptable that someone is denied access to healthcare services, people with COVID-19 can go to any hospital, we have provided and supported that every institution must make provision to manage COVID-19 patients. A nurse who is afraid for whatever reason, who feels not trained properly, who feels has no sufficient PPEs can not make a justified rule of denying someone else who needs help in that hospital,” says Head of Department at Eastern Cape Heath Dr Thobile Mbengashe.

The fear of COVID-19 has led to some patients being stigmatised in their communities for having the virus.

Last month, residents of Ntunjambili near Kranskop took to the streets demanding the removal of COVID-19 patients from a local hospital.

Angry residents blocked the road with burning rubble and rocks defying lockdown regulations.

Ntunjambili Hospital is a designated COVID-19 facility for all areas under the iLembe District, including Kranskop.