Frantic mom pleads to see child at KZN hospital after Covid-19 outbreak

05 May 2020 - 14:06
By Lwandile Bhengu
Worried mothers Kahatija Mamsoor and Zanele Nhlangothi outside the General Justice Gizenga hospital in KwaDukuza, which is not accepting new admissions after a Covid-19 outbreak.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu Worried mothers Kahatija Mamsoor and Zanele Nhlangothi outside the General Justice Gizenga hospital in KwaDukuza, which is not accepting new admissions after a Covid-19 outbreak.

Kahatija Mamsoor queued outside General Justice Gizenga Memorial hospital in KwaDukuza on Tuesday to plead with staff to allow her to see her seven-year-old daughter after the KwaZulu-Natal facility shut following a Covid-19 outbreak.

The hospital was closed for admissions on Monday after 16 people - nine mothers, two babies, four doctors and a nurse - tested positive for Covid-19.

On Tuesday about 100 people queued outside to get their medication.

Mamsoor took her daughter to the hospital just hours before the facility closed, after she suffered from what appeared to be a stroke.

"The doctor said she was not sure what happened to her because they were supposed to do a CT scan this morning, but she is not sure whether they did it and I can't see her. I can't give her anything," she told TimesLIVE.

The mother was advised by the hospital that her daughter was OK and that she should rather call to check up on her condition.

"They should have called me because the link [about Covid-19 cases at the hospital] went out last night, and I wondered if I should phone them," she said.

"I called to find out how my daughter is, and they said she is OK. I hope I am leaving her in safe hands.

"I was frantic when I heard the hospital was closed. I didn't know if I should remove her and whether they would allow me to take her. However, she has a serious condition so taking her home is a big risk.

"The doctors I spoke to yesterday were very good, but I am anxious about the situation." 

In a statement on Tuesday, provincial health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said: "As a department, we are extremely concerned by these developments and have urgently exercised our constitutional obligation to prevent a further outbreak of the virus.

"What is of particular concern to us is the fact that these infections have taken place in spite of the hospital’s infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, as well as the requisite personal protective equipment (PPE) that has been made available to staff."

Simelane-Zulu said the first known Covid–19 case at the hospital involves a mother who reportedly did not disclose that her husband was one of the positive cases linked to a supermarket in Ballito.

She was housed at a boarding lodge at the hospital, where other mothers soon tested positive.

"We have instituted an urgent investigation by our communicable diseases control and IPC experts to establish, among others things, how the virus was able to spread at such a rapid rate within the hospital," said the MEC.

"All of the hospital’s laboratory-confirmed Covid–19-positive staff and patients have been isolated, and all protocols for contact mapping, tracing, testing, quarantine and isolation have been followed, in compliance with guidelines from the World Health Organisation."

The hospital, with 219 patients, has effectively been turned into a quarantine site. All staff and patients in the surgical ward and ICU have been tested. 

Another mother, Zanele Nhlangothi, faced similar stress when her 16-year-old son was admitted to the hospital after he fractured his arm.

When she arrived at the hospital, it was closed and her son was in the process of being discharged.

"I found out when I got to the hospital at around 7am that there were Covid-19 cases.

"I was very worried. I called his father to come and ask that he be discharged before they transfer him to another hospital," said Nhlangothi.

The hospital said it will refer diabetic patients to other hospitals in the district.

Chronic patients are being assessed at the gate, issued with three months of medical supplies and referred to central chronic medicine dispensing and distribution sites.

Meanwhile, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) visited the hospital on Tuesday.

KZN provincial secretary Ayanda Zulu said they had raised a number of concerns regarding PPE, staff training for Covid-19 and the hospital's risk management plans last week.