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Five staff members at King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban have tested positive for Covid-19, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has said, while units not affected at the facility would remain open.

“We have been made aware that five staff members of King Edward VIII Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19. We also note the unwarranted calls that have been attributed to staff, calling for the closure of the hospital,” Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said.

She added: “We wish to reiterate, as we have previously stated, that we will not be embarking on the wholesale closure of every healthcare facility where staff test positive.”

She said the closure of an entire facility would not work.

“That approach is unsustainable. Instead, we are guided by the extent of infections, based on a formal risk assessment study, in line with guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the clinical management of Covid-19.”

Simelane-Zulu said the management at the hospital was currently conducting a risk assessment study, “which will consider, among other factors; where the infection took place; when it happened; who was infected and who their contacts were”.

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“Our intervention going forward will be based on findings from that investigation. The decision on whether to close the theatre, or any other part of the hospital, will be determined by the number of positive tests and the extent of the building’s exposure to the virus.”

She called on society to “understand that hospitals are there to accept and treat patients with various kinds of ailments, including the Covid-19 epidemic”.

“As government, we have a paramount responsibility to provide all the equipment and gear that is necessary to prevent the transmission of the virus within the hospital setting – between patients and staff and among staff themselves. Both staff and patients have their own responsibility to adhere to safety precautions.”

She appealed to medical professionals to use their personal protective equipment at all times.

“They must leave nothing to chance, because any person or area within a hospital setting is a potential carrier of Covid-19.”

Several hospitals in KZN, including Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, St Augustine’s and Kingsway, recorded infections of staff and patients since the pandemic hit South Africa in March.


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