Covid-19: Netcare suspends some surgeries, limits visitors nationwide

  • Netcare says it is limiting surgical admissions in line with Covid-19 protocols.
  • Private hospitals have reported an influx of patients during the second wave of Covid-19 infections in coastal provinces.
  • Visiting will also be limited "to exceptional cases only" to protect the health of staff and patients.

As Covid-19 numbers continue to rise across the country during the second wave of the pandemic, the Netcare hospital group is limiting its surgeries and visits.

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Netcare CEO Dr Richard Friedland told News24 the hospital group had reinstated policies and procedures that were put in place during the first surge earlier in 2020, following an increase in confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

"Netcare hospitals are restricting visiting to exceptional cases only. In addition, we are limiting all surgical admissions to cases that are deemed medically necessary and where a delay in surgery could be harmful to the patient," he said.

He said they were maintaining a cautious approach and strict Covid-19 precautionary measures remained in place at all their facilities.

On Saturday, Mediclinic announced that it had suspended all elective (non-emergency) surgeries in the Western Cape region to create capacity.

Increased number of patients

The Mediclinic group said it had seen an increased number of patients flocking to its hospitals amid the second wave of the pandemic and this had created a strong demand for care in the Southern Cape, Western Cape and other areas.

Mediclinic added that the number of patients seeking medical attention is exceeding that of the first wave and that the demand for its intensive care and high care units had reached capacity.

The dramatic increase in numbers has placed strain on available healthcare resources, including staff, equipment and available beds to provide intensive treatment for seriously ill patients, the group said.

"Within the last month, Mediclinic has noted an increase from less than 100 admitted Covid-19 patients to more than 500 patients within its facilities across the Western Cape, including the Garden Route," it said in a statement on Saturday.

By Saturday, South Africa had 912 477 reported Covid-19 cases after an increase of 10 939 new cases. The death toll is 24 539.

News24 reported on Friday that a new coronavirus variant, called 501.V2, which has between 10 and 20 new mutations, was found by genomics scientists from across the country, who have been analysing genetic samples of the virus since the start of the pandemic.

Friedland added that the Netcare hospital group had also seen a "significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the hotspot areas of KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape", with cases starting to increase in Gauteng.

"We expect that admissions may increase further when holidaymakers return to the province from hotspots along the coast. Of concern, too, is that we are seeing more severe cases in the second wave," he said.

Admissions in the Eastern Cape have, however, started to plateau, said Friedland.

"Netcare urges each and every person to take Covid-19 extremely seriously and be even more cautious over the festive season. Every time people get together there are opportunities for the virus to potentially spread. Please remain vigilant to help protect your loved ones, yourself and the healthcare system," he added.

"We wish to urge persons who have contracted the virus to seek medical help timeously should their condition worsen, and not to postpone it until their condition deteriorates to the point where it becomes a medical emergency."

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