Addington Hospital is sitting on a time bomb as management comes under fire for allegedly hiding information on the infection rate after more nurses and a doctor apparently tested positive for Covid-19.
Over the past week, nearly 80 health workers and patients have tested positive for the disease at Netcare hospitals St Augustine’s, Parklands and Kingsway, prompting KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala to declare eThekwini an epicentre of the virus.
During the launch of community testing, Zikalala confirmed that 108 health-care workers had tested positive for Covid-19.
It is now alleged that at least four nurses at Addington Hospital were placed in isolation at the public facility after testing positive for Covid-19.
It is alleged that a nurse had confirmed that her husband, who worked at St Augustine's Hospital, had tested positive and infected the family, and they were in isolation at their home.
Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu said they had been informed there were cases of theatre workers testing positive at Addington. He said staff was concerned the infection rate could escalate after those thought to have contracted the virus were ordered to work while awaiting test results.
“Addington Hospital seems to be the most infected public facility. The writing is on the wall but the management is trying hard not to create panic among the staff. We have since learnt that positive cases have been confirmed there and that all theatre users have been tested to establish how far the virus has spread, which we appreciate,” he said.
Shabangu said their main concern was that the new lockdown rules in Durban meant that all positive cases in the metro would not be allowed to self-isolate, meaning they must all be admitted to hospital.
Another health worker, whose results came back negative, said he was concerned that there seemed to be a veil of secrecy around management. He said they had approached Denosa to seek clarity on the number of infections because officials were "toying" with their lives.
He said as front-line workers they had the right to know what was happening at their facility. He said while there were more than seven cases of infection, the emphasis was only placed on a single nurse who had openly revealed her status.
“They are hiding information from us about the number of people who have contracted the virus while not giving us enough protective gear. A member is expected to wear one mask a day, which is a health hazard considering that one has to remove it when having a meal. When confronted with issues, the management tells us instructions come from the head office - it is a ‘pass the buck syndrome,'" he said.
He also alleged that a doctor at a Gateway Clinic had tested positive.
He said numbers of infected people were expected to increase.
KZN Department of Health spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa said stringent clinical guidelines and protocols from the World Health Organization were in place for the provision of treatment to Covid-19 patients and to avoid reinfection.
Maphisa said in cases where health-care workers were infected, the government was obliged to provide the necessary care and treatment.
“Mapping and tracing of their contacts are also conducted so they, too, can be screened and tested alongside the patients, in order to curb the further spread of the virus."
"The affected section of the hospital may be closed, to allow for decontamination as part of the prevention of infection and control process."