Tygerberg Hospital’s isolation unit is the designated facility for any Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalisation in the Western Cape. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Health MEC: 'There will be more coronavirus cases, but we have a plan'

By Chelsea Geach Time of article published Mar 11, 2020

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Cape Town - There will be more cases of coronavirus in South Africa, says Western Cape Health Minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.

The first case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in the Western Cape, while three other patients are in isolation at Tygerberg Hospital awaiting their test results. This brings to 13 the total number of cases in the country.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde confirmed the first case of Covid-19 at a press briefing outside Tygerberg Hospital on Wednesday morning.

The 36-year-old man had travelled through Europe and returned to Cape Town on Monday. The man presented himself to a private healthcare facility with symptoms, where a swab was taken for testing. He was quarantined for 48 hours until his test came back positive, and he has been in self-imposed isolation ever since.

Mbombo said the private healthcare facility where the man presented would not be shut down or closed out of containment precautions.

She also said she fully anticipates more positive tests in the future.

“Of course there will be more cases, because people are travelling,” Mbombo said. “But we’ve got this. We have a plan.”

She led media on a tour around Tygerberg Hospital’s isolation unit which is already in operation, and is the designated facility for any Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalisation in the province.

Three patients are already admitted into the unit as they await the results of their tests, which should be released later today. They are being cared for by healthcare workers dressed head to toe in Protective Profession Equipment (PPE).

Dr Jantjie Taljaard, head of Infectious Diseases at Tygerberg, said that the three patients are not seriously ill, but were admitted for containment purposes. The Western Cape’s first confirmed positive case is self-isolating at home rather than at hospital.

“We prefer not to admit people unnecessarily to hospital at this point,” Taljaard said.

Tygerberg has designated a separate entrance for any Covid-19 cases to enter the hospital and reach the Infectious Diseases isolation wards. 

Tygerberg Chief Executive Dimitri Erasmus said it would minimize contact with other people. “This entrance has been identified because it is separate from the entrance that most patients and staff use.”

There is a designated elevator that only EMS personnel will have the key to, through which they will transport the patient up to the 10th floor. The patient would then be wheeled through the ward where current infectious diseases patients are treated. Security would clear the corridors and close all patient’s doors in order to minimise contact with the incoming coronavirus patient.

Winde and Mbombo both reiterated the importance of hygiene and handwashing in preventing the spread of the virus.

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