The KZN Health Department has called on all available private sector and retired doctors to join the fight against Covid-19 as the province battles the high infection rate and rolls out additional hospital bed capacityFile picture: Silas Camargo Silão/Pixabay hospital beds; empty hospital ward
The KZN Health Department has called on all available private sector and retired doctors to join the fight against Covid-19 as the province battles the high infection rate and rolls out additional hospital bed capacityFile picture: Silas Camargo Silão/Pixabay hospital beds; empty hospital ward

KZN adds hospital beds, asks retired doctors to provide their services to fight Covid-19 surge

By Lyse Comins Time of article published Dec 31, 2020

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Durban - The KZN Health Department has called on all available private sector and retired doctors to join the fight against Covid-19 as the province battles the high infection rate and rolls out additional hospital bed capacity.

Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu asked doctors who were currently at home or retired to provide their services on a short term contract.

At a media briefing yesterday, she said 455 additional beds have been made available in the province.

Simelane-Zulu said there had been 2 835 new infections over the past 24 hours which had declined from between 4 000 and 5 000 seen in recent days. A total of 144 people had died due to Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the overall tally to 4 278. Some 135 370 (or 72%) of patients had recovered.

She said the province was concerned about the high rate of infections, particularly in hotspot districts, including eThekwini, uGungundlovu, Ugu, Harry Gwala, King Cetshwayo and Ilembe. However, Simelane-Zulu said she was “confident” the alcohol ban, mandatory mask wearing and the stricter curfew would lead to a reduction in infections “quite soon”.

She said false messages on social media had created “unnecessary panic and confusion”.

“There was a picture making the rounds yesterday and was said to be a picture of bodies lying around in a mortuary at one of the hopitals…Edendale hospital and that is not true. A few days ago there was the same picture saying it was Prince Mshiyeni, it’s not true,” she said

“Yes, the health system is under pressure and we can’t run away from that and it’s the same for our counterparts in the private sector, but to claim there are no beds or mortuary space in KZN is disingenuous,” Simelane-Zulu said.

Providing an update on bed occupancy rates, she said the overall beds for isolation and patients under investigation was 3 477. Of these beds, 2 289 were occupied, which translated to a 66% bed occupancy rate on Monday.

“The bed occupancy rate varies across the districts, with places like Ugu and uMgungundlovu districts and eThekwini under pressure. However, we must emphasise that relatively sparsely populated districts such as Umzinyathi, Harry Gwala, Amajuba, Zululand, and uMkhanyakude have very low bed occupancy.

“Patients at Ugu District can easily be transferred to Harry Gwala District and uMgungundlovu patients to uThukela District, and so on. We are confident that bed occupancy will become a lot more stable, thanks to the re-introduction of Level 3 regulations,” she said.

Simelane-Zulu said overall ICU capacity within public health facilities was 39% (or 47 out of 119) on Monday.

She said hospitals such as Ngwelezane, Queen Nandi, Newcastle and Ladysmith had unoccupied ICU COVID-19 beds.

“When all ICU beds are exhausted in eThekwini, uMgungundlovu and Ugu, ICU patients will be moved to these hospitals,” she said.

She added that field hospitals at General Gizenga and Ngwelezane hospitals were operational, while the facility at the Royal Show grounds, which has 254 beds, was being recommissioned to open in the next two weeks.

“Beds in various hospitals have been designated for Covid-19 to provide a total of 455 additional beds. However, these facilities will require additional human resources and equipment, something that we have been working on.”

The Mercury

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