WATCH | KZN community protests outside hospital after Covid-19 admissions
Angry community members protested outside Ntunjambili Hospital near KwaDukuza, north of Durban, on Thursday against the admission of Covid-19 patients to the facility.
Police were called in and they dispersed the protesters using teargas.
Health MEC in KwaZulu-Natal Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu slated the protest and called for people not to stigmatise those diagnosed with Covid-19.
“This follows the burning of tyres outside Unjunjambili Hospital, near KwaDukuza, by community members who are angry, following the admission of 10 patients who are Covid-19 positive to the hospital,” she said.
Simelane-Zulu said because of the low bed utilisation and patient headcount at Untunjambili Hospital, the department had decided to use the facility for the quarantining, isolation and treatment of patients who test positive.
Simelane-Zulu said access to basic health care will be still be available at the hospital's clinic and that measures are in place to avoid intra-transmissions.
“The hospital’s 24-hour Gateway Clinic, in the same premises but accessible through a different gate, is still rendering primary health care (PHC) services to the public.
“Patients who require a higher level of care are being referred to Umphumulo Hospital,” she added.
She said bringing Covid-19 positive patients to the hospital does not pose a threat to the community if all clinical guidelines for infection prevention and control are followed by staff. This she said was the responsibility of the staff and management.
Simelane-Zulu lambasted the protesters, saying the unrest was uncalled-for, “and may be a symptom of a lack of understanding of Covid-19, which needs to change”.
“We are appealing to the community to calm down. This hospital is one of our less busy facilities. It has a bed utilisation rate of 39%, and an average patient length of stay of 4.6 days.
“Its patient headcount is 1,466, all of which is lower than the overage. As part of curbing the spread of Covid-19, we as government have a responsibility to create as much capacity as possible for the quarantining, isolation and treatment of patients,” Simelane-Zulu explained.
She urged residents to “get used to the fact that Covid-19 is here, and it is part of our lives”.
“As society — and not just government alone — we need to focus on demystifying the virus, and rather use our energy to create awareness on what its symptoms are, as well as what those who display them need to do.”
She also appealed to protesters to desist from protesting as gathering in large groups is in itself illegal, as it constitutes a violation of lockdown regulations.
“A meeting between management of the district, facility and local community leadership is currently under way, with the aim of resolving the situation,” Simelane-Zulu.