The General Justice Gizenga Memorial Hospital at KwaDukuza has become the first public hospital in KwaZulu Natal to be closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The provincial Health Department says the hospital, which has space for 219 patients has become an isolation site after 16 people tested positive for the coronavirus.

All staff and patients in the surgical ward and ICU have been tested.

The testing of the remaining staff and patients will be conducted on Tuesday. Among the people who have tested positive are 9 mothers, 2 babies, 4 doctors and 1 nurse.

The department in a statement said a high-level outbreak response team is working with the hospital to manage the situation. It is believed the outbreak started when a mother did not disclose that her husband tested positive.

The hospital has since stopped taking in new patients.

Low risk patients will be diverted by Emergency Medical Services to nearby district hospitals, while serious cases needing a higher level of care or surgery will be diverted to King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban.

Obstetrics and gynaecological cases requiring care at regional level will be diverted to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, King Edward VIII, and RK Khan hospitals.

Chronic patients will be assessed at the gate get issued with three month’s medical supplies and be down-referred to Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution (CCMDD) sites.

Last week the Department of Health during a presentation reported that about 328 health workers have contracted COVID-19.

The presentation revealed that 133 health workers contracted the virus in public facilities and 195 in private facilities.

The largest number of health workers testing positive comes from KwaZulu-Natal with 136 and the Western Cape.