An investigation has been launched into a potential spread of the novel coronavirus at Kingsway Hospital in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban, after exposure at the hospital was traced to a patient.
KwaZulu-Natal health department spokesperson Noluthando Nkosi said the provincial head of department (HOD) Dr Sandile Tshabalala was looking into the matter. The hospital was closed for new admissions and shut down its trauma unit this week.
"The HOD has sent teams to the hospital. We will institute an urgent investigation as was done with St Augustine's," Nkosi said, referring to the Durban hospital that also closed its doors to new patients after suffering a novel coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement, Netcare confirmed the temporary closure of Kingsway Hospital.
"Netcare today [Wednesday] confirmed that its KZN regional team and the hospital management at Netcare Kingsway Hospital have responded swiftly to managing the Covid-19 exposure at the hospital, and have temporarily closed the hospital for new admissions."
Regional director for Netcare Craig Murphy said the origin of the exposure was traced to a patient who was admitted to hospital via the emergency department on 4 April with a suspected stroke.
"Upon admission, the patient was risk assessed and screened for Covid-19 symptoms and exposure as per the Netcare protocol, which is aligned to the NICD [National Institute for Communicable Diseases] guidelines. The patient did not exhibit any signs of the virus and on questioning his family, no symptoms or exposure risks were reported."
Nehawu provincial secretary Ayanda Zulu told News24 that its members at the hospital said the trauma unit was closed.
"We have received information from members that the hospital is not closed. It is the trauma unit that has been closed and there are no new admissions of patients."
He said there were reports of Covid-19 infections, and some workers had been exposed.
"But we do not have a number as we speak. We are aware that late last week 12 were kept for Covid-19 and quarantined at the hospital. It was then expected that from Tuesday, after the long weekend, there would be results."
Zulu added: "Workers have been infected, but [we] do not have conclusive numbers."
No symptoms of Covid-19
Netcare said the patient did not have any symptoms of Covid-19.
Murphy said on the evening of 7 April during his hospitalisation, the patient was visited by his general practitioner, who mentioned to the treating specialist that he had treated him for flu-like symptoms on 1 April.
"The treating specialist requested a Covid-19 test as a precautionary measure even though the patient was still asymptomatic. At the same time, the patient was placed in isolation as a person under investigation (PUI). The test results of the patient came back on 8 April confirming that the patient had a Covid-19 infection."
Murphy said that in addition to closing the hospital for new admissions, they took "several other measures", including contact tracing to identify staff who may have had contact with the patient.
"Healthcare and other workers who have been exposed to the patient were asked to home-quarantine and self-monitor.
"Most of the identified contacts have been tested… the remainder of the exposed persons will be tested in the next few days. All potentially exposed patients have also been tested."
He said the emergency department was closed for outpatients from Tuesday with emergency medical service providers "notified to divert emergencies to other emergency departments".