Picture: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe
Picture: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

Two nurses, four patients test positive for Covid-19 at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital

By Sne Masuku Time of article published May 22, 2020

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Durban - NURSES at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix say they fear for their lives after four patients and two nurses tested positive for Covid-19.

Following news of the cases, nurses are demanding that the hospital be shut down and fumigated to prevent the spread of the virus.

The nurses have accused hospital officials of concealing infections.

The provincial Health Department said only the national department could confirm Covid-19 cases. National Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja asked to be sent an SMS, which he did not respond to. Maja did not respond to a second message, asking if he would comment, either.

However, DA Health spokesperson Dr Rishigen Viranna said it had come to the attention of the portfolio committee that four patients and two nurses had tested positive for Covid-19 while 33 other staff were awaiting their results.

He said the lack of information and communication led to fear among staff. “We have received reports that some staff are calling in sick because of fear. There are also reports of a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE)," said Viranna.

The Daily News has learnt the nurses held a protest at the hospital on Monday, complaining about the lack of PPE and the escalating number of cases allegedly being hidden from staff.

According to sources at the hospital, the response from management when staff complained that nothing was being done to remedy the situation, was that the hospital required a certain number of cases to be confirmed before it could be shut down and fumigated.

One nurse tested positive on Tuesday. She said yesterday she was not surprised by the result.

“In the first week of my arrival there, we were only supplied one surgical mask for the whole day. Recently we were supplied with three surgical masks for the day and if using the N95, it’s one for the whole day,” she said.

Provincial secretary of the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA ,Popson Kunene said the union was alarmed by the increasing number of infections among health workers. He said while the shortage of PPE remained a problem, facility managers were inconsistent in the implementation of preventative measures to manage the spread of Covid-19.

The acting chairperson of the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital board,Sham Maharaj, said responsibility for supplying PPE lay with the Health Department. He said the board had not been made aware of Covid-19 cases at the hospital.

KZN Health Department spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa said anyone with safety concerns and challenges regarding PPE should know how to escalate the matter.

Daily News

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