Medical professor quoted in fake Steve Biko hospital message slams 'mischief makers'

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A medical professor has clarified a fake message with his name on it.
A medical professor has clarified a fake message with his name on it.
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  • A doctor's personal appeal to a family group on WhatsApp last year is being used to spread misinformation about Steve Biko hospital.
  • The misinformation comes at a time when the hospital is under increased pressure.
  • Professor Patrick Lekgwara urged members of the public not to forward the fake message.

A medical professor whose personal appeal to his family messaging group in March 2020 has been doctored and is being used to spread misinformation about the current situation at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane, says those behind the fake message are "being mischevious".

"They took an edited message I wrote to a family group last year in March, at the beginning of the pandemic and started re-circulating it. We now know a lot about Covid-19 and that message is outdated. Please refrain from forwarding it," Professor Patrick Lekgwara wrote on his Facebook page this week.

This comes after Lekgwara's personal message was used to spread misinformation by attributing it as a message from an "HOD of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital".  

Lekgwara, who is based at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, said he has never been employed at the hospital.

Steve Biko hospital was thrust into the headlines this week after images emerged showing the poor state of the facility at a time when the country is in the grips of a second wave of Covid-19.

The original outdated message sent to a family wha
The original outdated message sent to a family whatsapp group in March 2020.

The fake message gives Lekgwara the title of HOD at Steve Biko hospital.

Lekgwara message attributed to the Steve Biko Hosp
Lekgwara message attributed to the Steve Biko Hospital in 2021.

Lekgwara further reiterated that although facilities were overwhelmed, now was "not the time to panic".

"All our hospitals are in a difficult time. Steve Biko and DGMAH [George Mukhari Academic Hospital] are tertiary hospitals and because of the increasing numbers, they will be overwhelmed. However, they have plans on how to handle the increasing numbers.

"It's not the time to panic. As I saw on the news, Steve Biko Academic Hospital is doing the best they can. I am not employed there, so I can't comment much," he told News24 on Monday.

READ | Ramaphosa expected to continue current lockdown restrictions

The country reported a higher number of new cases and deaths during the second wave. President Cyril Ramaphosa, in an address on Monday evening, noted that since New Year's Day, South Africa recorded "nearly 190 000 new Covid-19 infections and more than 4 600 Covid-19 deaths so far this year".

Steve Biko Academic Hospital

News24 reported on Monday that the Steve Biko hospital, a specialist facility, was under great pressure.

According to the Gauteng health department, the hospital was seeing an increased number of patients [who] are sicker and require critical care, with some arriving in groups and putting serious pressure on the facility.

"Some of the patients the hospital is receiving come from private facilities because of lack of space, while others are self-referred from other provinces, such as North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo," the department said in a statement.

The department issued the statement following a series of images, shared on social media, which showed patients being treated in tents in a roofed structure at the hospital's Emergency Unit entrance, News24 reported.

READ | Covid-19: Why Steve Biko hospital is under increasing pressure

As of Monday, 11 January - the country recorded 15 046 new cases, bringing the cumulative total of Covid-19 cases to 1 246 643 and a further 416 deaths, bringing the total Covid-19 deaths to 33 579.

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