Covid-19 in KZN: Simelane-Zulu denies claims there are no beds for patients

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The KZN government has refuted claims that hospitals were short of beds.
The KZN government has refuted claims that hospitals were short of beds.
  • KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has denied rumours that there are no beds available for Covid-19 patients
  • She said they were at 66% occupancy of the 3 477 beds for isolation that were available.
  • She admitted that public healthcare was under pressure.

Allegations that there is a shortage of hospital beds in KwaZulu-Natal due to Covid-19 are false, Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said on Wednesday.

She admitted that the public healthcare system was under strain, but rubbished rumours that there are no beds and that all mortuaries were full. 

"Yes, the public healthcare system is under pressure, and so are our counterparts in the private sector. And yes, the situation is not normal, and far from ideal. But to claim that there are no beds or mortuary space is disingenuous, misleading, and completely unnecessary," she said in a press briefing.

READ | SA's new Covid-19 variant: Top scientist talks to BI

Her statement comes after paramedic services throughout the eThekwini Municipality and iLembe District reported being turned away at hospitals because of limited capacity.

She said, as of 28 December, the overall beds for isolation and Patients Under Investigation (PUIs) was 3 477.

Of these beds, 2 289 were occupied, adding that this amounted to a 66% bed occupancy rate.

She said the bed occupancy rate varied across the districts, placing districts like Ugu, uMgungundlovu and eThekwini Metro under pressure.

ALSO READ | KZN health care system 'crippled' as paramedics battle Covid-19 overflow

Simelane-Zulu however emphasised that relatively sparsely populated districts such as Umzinyathi, Harry Gwala, Amajuba, Zululand and uMkhanyakude had very low bed occupancy.

"These variations in the bed occupancy rates among districts mean that the province still has 34% of beds that are unoccupied; which allows for intra – district transfer of Covid-19 patients where there is pressure, should the need arise.

"For instance, patients at Ugu District can easily be transferred to Harry Gwala District; and UMgungundlovu patients to uThukela District, and so on.

"We are confident that bed occupancy will become a lot more stable, thanks to the re-introduction of Level 3 regulations," she said.


She added that more than 140 people had died in the province in the past 24 hours due to Covid-19, bringing the overall death toll to 4 278.

Simelane-Zulu said the provincial government was concerned about the increase.

In the same 24-hour reporting cycle, the province registered 2 835 new infections, taking the cumulative number of infections to 188 782.

"Thankfully, this is down from the 4 000's that we have been seeing, which were threatening to reach the 5 000 mark. It is only by doing that which is right that we can begin to see a consistent reduction in these infection figures," said Simelane-Zulu.

She also revealed that 135 370, or 72% of Covid-19 patients, had recovered.

"We remain concerned as the Province that we appear to have maintained high COVID infection figures in the province. This is particularly so in the districts that have been described as hotspots, which are Thekwini, Umgungundlovu, Ugu, Harry Gwala, King Cetshwayo and iLembe," said Simelane-Zulu.

She added that the government was confident that the restrictions on liquor trade, enforcement of the wearing of masks, as well as the stricter curfew, "will help change our situation around quite soon". 

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