Extra hands needed as 80% of health workers with Covid-19 are in Western Cape

05 June 2020 - 16:15 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Health minister Zweli Mkhize says more doctors have been deployed to the Western Cape in response to the high level of Covid-19 infections.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize says more doctors have been deployed to the Western Cape in response to the high level of Covid-19 infections.
Image: GCIS

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize voiced concern on Friday that 80% of the country's health-care workers who had contracted Covid-19 were based in the Western Cape.

This, he said, raised the question of bringing extra support into the province, where infections are expected to peak before other parts of the country.

He was speaking during a visit to the province by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who expressed grave concern about the Covid-19 crisis unfolding there.

Mkhize said as of May 28, the national number of health-care workers who had contracted Covid-19 was 2,084. Around 80% of them were in the Western Cape.

There were 83 doctors, 727 nurses and 481 other health workers infected in the public sector in the province.

“This is of great concern to us and raises the question of additional support. We are looking into deploying doctors from both the private and public sectors across the country to come and assist the province,” said Mkhize.

“Crews from KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape have been deployed to assist.”

Mkhize said specialist doctors from different medical disciplines had approached the department to volunteer their assistance.

“Their main concern is how they are going to be pushed into doing work which is outside their scope. The issue of lawsuits is under discussion,” he said.

Mkhize said 66% of the country's 40,792 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 77% of the deaths were in the Western Cape, which was “too high in terms of the population proportion”.

Mkhize said additional beds to cater for an expected surge in patients would be made available following an agreement with the private sector. He stressed patients would get the same treatment in the public and private sectors under the agreement.  


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