KZN Health MEC battling oxygen shortage, Covid-19 fake news
Durban – Oxygen shortages at health facilities, misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine and 5G are some of the challenges being experienced in KwaZulu-Natal, says Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu.
Simelane-Zulu said this while briefing the health portfolio committee on Covid-19 and health-related matters.
"We generally have a challenge with oxygen in the province. Of course, we have not faced a situation where we ran out of oxygen entirely,'’ she said.
According to Simelane-Zulu, their supplier, Afrox, did not have enough staff, and as a result their facilities could not deliver the amount of oxygen that was ordered.
"As the province, we engaged with Afrox to find ways of working around that. We have also put measures in place when Afrox is unable to deliver. We arrange transport and make sure we get cylinders in our facilities as required."
She said they were looking at other role players in the market that may assist with supplying oxygen.
"Even though the amount of oxygen might not be big, it would reduce the burden."
Simelane-Zulu also said there was daily monitoring of the availability of oxygen at the health facilities.
"It is necessary to meet once a day with management to ensure all facilities are provided with enough oxygen."
The MEC also said the province has been inundated with misinformation in relation to Covid-19 vaccines and questions on what makes people fall sick during the pandemic.
She said fake news was one issue they dealt with after 5G was linked to people being infected.
"There has been fake news that people should not allow 5G towers," she said, adding that they have laid a charge of misinformation about the vaccine.
Simelane-Zulu stated, however, that the Covid-19 vaccine was like any others that were introduced in the past to eradicate polio and measles.
She told the MPs the province was working with the national Department of Health on the vaccine roll-out plan. "We have put systems in place. We are ready for the vaccine.’’
Simelane-Zulu noted that funerals in the province had been the source of super-spreader events. ’’Some of the areas were not really adhering to protocols and times given to hold funerals," she said.
She noted that there was non-compliance on the maximum number of 50 people allowed to attend a funeral and a reluctance to not hold night vigils.
"That is what we have been talking to our people about. People of KwaZulu-Natal are beginning to realise there are other ways of sending condolences other than the traditional ways.’’
Simelane-Zulu hailed the decision by the provincial government to ban big events during the festive season.
"The leadership had to make a decision that the events are going to be cancelled. As a result, we did not have many infections spread as a result of the events," she said.