Health Portfolio Committee welcomes decision to shut down St Augustine's Hospital
Durban - The Portfolio Committee on Health has welcomed the closure of Durban's St Augustines Hospital.
Speaking during a media briefing on Thursday, MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, said the hospital was closed in phases.
"Firstly, we instructed that as of Wednesday last week, the hospital should not take any more patients. However, before we started discharging or transferring patients, we tested all the patients. With the treatment and results, we have been able to discharge patients, not infected with Covid-19, to other facilities," she said.
Commenting on the closure, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said the issue at St Augustine’s Hospital in could be defined as implausible.
Dr Dhlomo, KZN's former health MEC, said he commended Simelane-Zulu on her decision to close the hospital completely, as it will drastically curtail the spread of the virus in the hospital.
“It is unbelievable that we could have so many Covid-19-related infections and deaths at one hospital. Half of the deaths relating to the pandemic in KwaZulu-Natal are from St Augustine’s hospital," he said.
Dhlomo said the appointment of Prof Salim Karim and a team of epidemiology and infectious diseases specialists from the University of KwaZulu-Natal to fully investigate the cause of the outbreak was a welcomed move.
However, he is of the view that the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, must investigate what is taking place in the hospital and provide a report thereafter.
"It is encouraging to know that the Minister of Health has been given more powers in terms of the recommendations of the Health Market Inquiry Report, which was released by the Competition Commission. The report’s recommendations released last year in October allow the Minister to get into the issues of private hospitals and have a thorough investigation," Dhlomo said.
He added that the health minister "should leave no stone unturned" in getting into what took place at the hospital.
“We would like to thank President Cyril Ramaphosa for announcing and declaring a national state disaster, thereby enabling a locking down for the entire country. What we are witnessing at St Augustine’s is something we would not have discovered if there was no country-wide vigilance to fight coronavirus,” said Dr Dhlomo.