Tygerberg Hospital has a quarantine section for patients with the coronavirus. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)
Tygerberg Hospital has a quarantine section for patients with the coronavirus. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19 claims second Cape nurse

By Chelsea Geach Time of article published May 9, 2020

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Cape Town - A Tygerberg Hospital nurse has become the latest health-care worker to die of Covid-19 as the Western Cape saw an increase of 11 coronavirus deaths and more than 500 new infections on Friday.

“We are deeply saddened to announce the death of a Tygerberg Hospital nurse, Ntombizakithi Ngidi,” said Premier Alan Winde. “We extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends and her colleagues at this time and we honour her service to the people of this province.”

Ngidi is the second nurse to die from Covid-19 in the Western Cape, following the burial of 62-year-old Petronella “Aunty Nellie” Benjamin this week.

“Next week, as we mark International Nurses Day, we will honour these two women for their commitment and their care,” Winde said. “Each and every death should be a stark reminder of the role we all have to play in flattening this curve so that we can protect our health-care workers and all of our vulnerable, elderly or sick residents.”

The Western Cape is the epicentre of the country’s pandemic with 4 584 cases confirmed. This number is made up of 2 979 infected patients, 1 518 recoveries and 87 deaths. The province has performed more than 53 000 tests.

Some staff reported fears that personal protective equipment (PPE) was not being adequately used at Tygerberg, where Ngidi worked as a nurse. One man attempted to report the hospital to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize via Twitter.

“Nurses got infected while at work in Tygerberg Hospital and that’s including my wife,” wrote @Likamva8. “They were denied the use of protection gear that was available and guess what, my wife got infected and the second nurse passed away (Thursday) night. My whole family has been unfortunately infected with the virus.”

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo responded to the claims on Twitter, saying the man would need to be more specific.

“TBH has more than 600 staff plus more than 1 000 beds. You have to be specific. You can’t close the whole hospital anyway, as it gets referrals from all over the country,” Mbombo wrote. “Note, it is originally a Covid-dedicated hospital. No surprise, but of course worrisome, if staff is not prioritised.”

Provincial Health Department spokesman Mark van der Heever said extensive measures were in place to protect staff at Tygerberg.

“We prioritise the safety of our staff. There are layers of staff protection prescribed, based on the direct risk to exposure,” he said. “PPE is only used when staff are in direct contact with someone who has tested positive, or someone who is suspected of having coronavirus infection.”

Former Western Cape premier and DA party leader Helen Zille commented on social media last night: “Once you have the health system ready, the virus must run its course.

“No cure. No vaccine. Only immunity when you have had it. It is less deadly than we feared, especially to young and healthy people. Numbers will go up a lot, but that gets us closer to the peak. Then it will drop. No other way.”

Weekend Argus

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government's 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.

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