Alarm at KZN Covid spike

2020-04-27 14:00
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala. (Supplied by KZN Health Dept)

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The soaring number of Covid-19 cases in eThekwini has prompted the premier to launch an investigation into whether negligence at private hospitals is to blame.

Briefing the media in Durban on Sunday, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said eThekwini had continued to register the highest number of deaths despite having a lower Covid-19 infection rate compared to other hotspot metros in the country.

“Our initial suspicion is that there may be a problem with the management of these cases, particularly in the private sector.

“We have therefore instituted an investigation through the Department of Health. This investigation must tell us whether the reason for this is due to medical reasons or negligence,” he said.

As of Saturday, confirmed Covid-19 cases in the province stood at 846, with eThekwini recording 383 infections.

Of the 29 Covid-19 deaths in the province as of Saturday, 21 were in eThekwini.

“We are still noticing a trend whereby most of our new cases are being registered in eThekwini, which is recording above 10 cases per day. In fact, there is not a single day that eThekwini does not report new cases — unlike other districts, which can go on for days without having new cases,” Zikalala said.

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the lockdown restrictions in the country would from the beginning of May be eased to level 4. However, Zikalala said strict lockdown regulations were likely to remain in place in eThekwini.

“If we were to use the National Risk Adjusted Strategy guideline, as things stand, it looks like eThekwini will still remain under stricter lockdown regulations compared to other districts — unless there is a drastic change in the coming days,” he said.

While the rate of infections in other parts of the province remained steady, with uMgungundlovu District, which includes Pietermaritzburg, having recorded 49 infections as of Saturday, Zikalala expressed concern about the recent sharp increases in the iLembe District, which includes Stanger and Ballito.

“Since the 22nd of April 2020, of the 44 new cases reported, 19 were from eThekwini, and 25 were reported at iLembe,” Zikalala said.

The provincial government was equally concerned about the increasing number of infected health workers in the province.

“The total number of laboratory confirmed Covid-19 cases involving healthcare workers is 121, this number has grown from 108 last week.

“This is concerning because as far as we are aware, all our qualifying healthcare workers should have access to the Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) that they need in order to avoid infection.

“It would appear that we probably need to further capacitate our healthcare workers in the correct use of PPE,” Zikalala said.

Since the lockdown was imposed more than a month ago, a total of 1 182 people had been arrested for breaking lockdown regulations.

Last week police were called in after some residents in Untunjambili in the iLembe District staged a protest outside the local hospital where 10 Covid-19 patients had been admitted.

Zikalala said the conduct of the protesters, who were demanding the removal of the patients from the hospital, had the potential to create a stigma around Covid-19 patients.

“Being infected with Covid-19 is not necessarily a death sentence, and there is no good reason to ostracise other members of society,” he said.

As of Saturday, the province’s Covid-19 statistics stood as follows:

Amajuba 8

eThekwini 579

King Cetshwayo 12

Harry Gwala 1

iLembe 122

Ugu 16

uMgungundlovu 49

uMkhanyakude 21

uMzinyathi 3

uThukela 23

Zululand 2

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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