Johannesburg - More than 100 patients and six nurses have tested positive for Covid-19 after the North West Department of Health tested two wards at the Witrand Hospital this week.
The tests were conducted on 238 people - among them 202 patients and 36 staff members, and the results show that half the patients were infected, while a fifth of the nurses were positive.
The hospital - which serves hundreds of intellectually disabled and psychiatric patients - recorded its first positive case last Wednesday, June 10.
By Sunday, June 14, eight health workers had tested positive, creating anxiety among staff.
North West Health MEC Madoda Sambatha said Ward 3 and 4 at the hospital was ‘proactively’ targeted as part of a survey by the department, with tests conducted on Monday and Tuesday this week.
The department also requested the NICD and NHLS to fast-track the process in order to determine the extent of the problem.
“It is important to mention that already at this stage two patients from ward 03 and ward 04 tested positive from the initial testing done by the hospital.
“Samples were then taken from 238 people made of 202 and 36 staff members. This was prompted by the nature of patients and inability to maintain social distancing and wearing of masks.
“The results show that 100 patients tested positive while 6 staff members also tested positive. Out of 100 patients who tested positive, 81 are from ward 03 and 19 from ward 04. From the 6 staff members, two stay in Gauteng and travel between the two provinces,” said Sambatha.
The MEC also explained that the hospital served intellectually disabled and psychiatric patients and had 720 beds for intellectually disabled patients, 154 for psychiatric patients and 15 for physical medicine and rehab.
Sambatha said there were no personal protective equipment shortages at the hospital and said health-workers also had face shields as a precaution.
“We will also make sure that a risk assessment of the entire facility will be done with the assistance of NICD which may involve testing of other staff members and patients in the other wards.
“Management is also urged to make sure that staff working in an allocated ward is not shifted to other wards to prevent staff-to-staff transmissions of Covid-19,” said the MEC.
The health department said patients who were positive would be isolated, while those patients who were contacts but had tested negative, would continue to be monitored for symptoms. Should they display symptoms. They will be tested.
A 55-bed isolation ward would also be prepared with supply of oxygen as a matter of urgency.
The hospital chief executive would appoint two members from the hospital board and unions, who would be responsible for the management of communicating with families and contacts. This team would also individually inform families about the test results and the ensuing plans, on a daily basis.