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Health minister Zweli Mkhize justifies unused beds in KZN as 'investment' for province

06 August 2020 - 14:08 By Orrin Singh

While KwaZulu-Natal prepares for a peak in Covid-19 infections, being tipped as the next epicentre in the country, health minister Zweli Mkhize has justified the number of unused beds in the province.

Mkhize, who is in the province for the next two days, conducted a doorstop visit to Richmond Hospital in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands on Thursday.

What was previously solely a TB facility, the hospital was entirely restructured and now has 95 beds, including quarantine and isolation wards.

The health department in KwaZulu-Natal benefited from a massive cash-injection to construct a number of field hospitals as well as refurbish dilapidated facilities to cope with a surge in infections.

However beds remain empty.

MEC for health Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu told reporters that people were not coming to hospitals.

“People are not coming to hospitals. Don't wait until you are too sick, come to our facility. We have more than enough beds for you to use.”

Mkhize justified the unused beds as an investment for the province.

“We can't allow our people to be seen in a place that is not suitable. It is very important for us to ensure our people are treated with dignity.”

Mkhize, who knows the Richmond area well, said there was a need for a TB hospital in Richmond in the past, but since the outbreak of Covid-19 there was a greater need to restructure the dilapidated facility.

He said the hospital was greatly needed by the community and a well-needed investment for both the region and district.

The minister will conduct an oversight visit to Clairwood Hospital, south of Durban, and on Friday will visit Madadeni Hospital in Newcastle as well as a hospital in Utrecht, northern KwaZulu-Natal.