COVID-19 SA Cases increase Level 1

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DA Gauteng concerned over COVID-19 cases at mental hospital

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng said there needed to be an investigation to look into why there was a high COVID-19 infection rate at Sterkfontein Hospital in Krugersdorp

COVID-19 SA Cases increase Level 1

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has sounded the alarm on the “disturbingly high” number of coronavirus cases at the Sterkfontein Hospital in Krugersdorp.

This was revealed by acting Gauteng Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo in a written reply to the DA’s shadow MEC for health, Jack Bloom.

The mental health facility, which has already faced a series of challenges, in the midst of the pandemic, recorded close to 200 cases as of the end of August – just months after the first case of the respiratory disease was picked up.

The number of health workers infected is 125 while 64 patients have also contracted the virus.

DA: Lessons should have been learnt from Life Esidimeni tragedy

There also seems to be a disagreement over the fatalities reported at Sterkfontein Hospital as the DA has cited staffers who claim two people succumbed to the disease, but Mamabolo said only one person died.

Bloom said the numbers were too high, given the fact that it only attends to psychiatric patients.

“COVID-19 infections at the hospital affected nearly one in five (17%) of the 720 staff and about 11% of the 560 patients. This is disturbingly high as this hospital only treats mental patients and has a lower risk than other hospitals that treat all other patients,” he said.

There have been concerns over the frontline workers contracting the disease and calls for government to intervene adequately to protect them. More than 32 000 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 while over 250 others have died.

“It seems that the Gauteng Health Department neglected a mental health facility during this pandemic despite the lessons that should have been learned from the Life Esidimeni tragedy,” Bloom concluded.

The National Health, Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has accused both provincial and national health departments of neglecting healthcare employees who are at the forefront of the fight against the virus.

Mamabolo said the health facility was well equipped, but the DA is not entirely convinced, with Bloom saying:

“Although Mamabolo claims that sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was supplied to the hospital, an investigation is needed as to why there was such a high infection rate”