Covid-19: KZN increases bed capacity, gets ready to commission new field hospital

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KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu-Simelane Zulu.
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu-Simelane Zulu.
Kaveel Singh, News24
  • KwaZulu-Natal says it has enough beds and will only acquire extra ones should they be needed as daily infections increase.
  • 4 340 patients have been admitted in both private and public hospitals. Of those, 472 required intensive care services.
  • At least 8 723 public healthcare workers in the province, most of whom are nurses, were infected with Covid-19 since March. Ninety-eight have succumbed to the virus.

The KwaZulu-Natal government says there is enough bed capacity in the province and it will contract more hotels and lodges if the need arises.

"We are happy with our capacity … we are doing OK with no problems. We decided to not go out yet and contract hotels en masse.

"Instead, we sit down and see where help is needed, and we do that because we went out to contract facilities previously, only to find that some districts did not need the extra beds. So, as soon as a need arises, a contract is signed the following day," Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said on Sunday.

In addition, the province is repurposing 540 beds in the eThekwini, iLembe and Harry Gwala regions and commissioning field hospitals for an additional 954 beds.

Two hotels in the Ugu and King Cetswayo regions have also been contracted.

Known as a favourite destination for holidaymakers, KwaZulu-Natal recorded 4 714 new infections, bringing the total number to 209 691. Eight-five people succumbed to the virus in the same period.

PPE

On the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) at Albert Luthuli Hospital, Simelane-Zulu said she received daily reports on PPE stock, denying the hospital was experiencing shortages.

"It seems there's one or two media houses obsessed with Albert Luthuli Hospital … there is someone at the hospital who claimed there are no PPEs. The workers that work there are no different from others, there's no special treatment of certain health workers.

"All of them are important to the department and are treated with respect they deserve. There is no issue with PPE, I personally went to check the stock at Albert Luthuli and found PPE available."

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Speaking on the admission of patients at trauma units, she lauded the Level 3 lockdown and banning of liquor sales which she said had resulted in lower trauma cases at provincial hospitals compared to previous years.

Simelane-Zulu added South Africans should be introspective about the destructive nature of alcohol abuse.

"The fact that we currently do not have many trauma cases shows that the alcohol ban is helping. Health workers are able to focus on the work at hand, and not on injuries caused by alcohol-related incidents.

"I think it is about time we start revisiting our relationship with alcohol consumption.

"Yes, the president banned the selling of alcohol, but is it necessary that every year, emergency services go all out purely because there's car accidents, people have stabbed or shot each other because of alcohol abuse? The abuse of alcohol causes a lot of problems."

There were 4 340 patients admitted in both private and public hospitals. Of those, 472 required intensive care services. Notably, private hospitals had more patients in ICU than public facilities.

The deadly pandemic has infected 8 723 public sector health workers in KwaZulu-Natal, killing 98 of them.

Most of the affected health workers are nurses.

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