JMH Isipingo Hospital group general manager Vishnu Rampartab confirmed that an anaesthetist had tested positive for Covid-19 on March 27, and had been placed in isolation. Picture: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
JMH Isipingo Hospital group general manager Vishnu Rampartab confirmed that an anaesthetist had tested positive for Covid-19 on March 27, and had been placed in isolation. Picture: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Two KZN doctors test positive for Covid-19

By Lyse Comins Time of article published Apr 6, 2020

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Durban - An anaesthetist at the JMH Isipingo Hospital and a healthcare practitioner at the Hibiscus Hospital in Port Shepstone have tested positive for Covid-19.

On Friday, 11 confirmed Covid-19 cases were reported at St Augustine’s Hospital, in Durban.

JMH Isipingo Hospital group general manager Vishnu Rampartab confirmed that an anaesthetist had tested positive for Covid-19 on March 27, and been placed in isolation.

He said the hospital had reported the case to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).

“We can also confirm that, in accordance with the guidelines stipulated by NICD, all staff, doctors and patients, as well as family members, who may have come into contact with the doctor were immediately informed to self-isolate and contact the NICD or the hospital should they present with symptoms of coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath or high temperature,” Rampartab said.

He said staff would remain in isolation and be tested after 14 days to confirm that they remained negative.

“Only then will they be allowed back at work. The areas where the doctor had worked were immediately locked down, sanitised and fogged – in accordance with Department of Health guidelines. We can confirm that none of our staff or other doctors have since tested positive for Covid-19,” he said.

He said no visitors were allowed at the hospital during lockdown.

“Health-care workers, at the forefront, have to be protected. We salute all of our staff and those at all hospitals, and doctors who continue to make personal sacrifices and risk their own safety to care for patients during this fight against the pandemic,” he said.

Hibiscus Hospital Port Shepstone chief executive Richard Mills said the hospital had been informed on March 27 that a health-care practitioner who had worked at the hospital had tested positive for Covid-19.

“The same health-care practitioner had tested negative two weeks earlier and has not returned to the facility since testing positive,” Mills said.

He said the hospital had immediately notified Ugu District Health, the local communicable disease control office and the NICD.

Meanwhile, Denosa (The Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA) has alleged that nurses at Netcare’s St Augustine’s hospital had complained, before the ­outbreak at the hospital, that they had not been given sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear in the workplace.

Denosa provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu claimed yesterday the number of infections at St Augustine’s had risen to “20 or more”.

He also alleged at least five staff members had been advised their Covid-19 tests taken on Thursday would not be processed and they would not get the results, as they were not regarded as high risk.

“Health workers are at the centre of the outbreak. It is sad to report that, in KZN, the number of nurses and doctors who are testing positive is increasing drastically,” Shabangu said.

“Health workers are affected because of poor protection. This spread is due to the arrogant and wrong attitudes of managers, who refuse to give workers PPE but continue intimidating them about dismissal, where we know that employment in South Africa is at the lowest, so nurses are the victims of this scare,” Shabangu said.

Netcare has denied the allegations.

Netcare group medical director Dr Anchen Laubscher said staff were being provided with appropriate PPE.

“Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital has not expected any staff member to work without appropriate PPE and has not threatened any staff member with disciplinary action in this regard. The swabs of all staff members for Covid-19 were sent to the laboratory for testing. All staff, doctors and contract service providers at the hospital are also being screened daily,” she said. “Where indicated by the screening, tests are done. We don’t disclose the number of persons who test positive for Covid-19.”

She said so far 200 staff members and patients had been tested, and the whole hospital and emergency department would remain closed until further notice.

“The only surgery that may be undertaken will be if a patient currently in hospital requires emergency surgery,” she said.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa stands at 1 585, an increase of 80 from the previously reported cases, and nine confirmed deaths, six of which are from KZN. Confirmed cases include Gauteng (693); the Western Cape (433) and KwaZulu-Natal (232).

The Mercury

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