KZN health dept shuts down Netcare hospital

After over 60 people test positive for Covid-19 at St Augustine’s, including 47 staff.
JSE-listed Netcare, SA's largest private hospital group, is facing a Covid-19 fallout. Its flagship facility in Durban, St Augustine’s Hospital is being shut down by the KZN Health Department following an outbreak of more than 60 Covid-19 cases. Image: Moneyweb

The Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban has been temporarily shut down by KwaZulu-Natal’s Health Department, following an outbreak of more than 60 confirmed cases of Covid-19 linked to the private hospital.

This was confirmed by provincial health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, in a briefing together with KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala on Wednesday evening. It follows national Health Minister Zweli Mkhize warning on Tuesday that further parts of the hospital would close for disinfection.

Read: Netcare hospital under scrutiny as staff contract coronavirus

Mkhize, who released a brief update late on Wednesday night stating that the number of Covid-19 deaths in South Africa had risen by five to 18 and confirmed cases stood 1 845, did not make further mention of the situation at St Augustine’s Hospital.

The 464-bed Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban, the group’s largest hospital in SA. Image: St Augustine’s Facebook page

There are conflicting reports in terms of the number of staff and patients at the hospital who have tested positive for Covid-19. Both Mkhize and Simelane-Zulu have said that 66 confirmed cases are linked to the hospital, including 48 staff.

However, in a statement released by Netcare earlier on Wednesday, the group’s CEO Dr Richard Friedland said 47 of the hospital’s staff had tested positive and 15 current patients were being treated for Covid-19. A staff member and a patient within these numbers had recovered and have since tested negative.

Friedland also confirmed that the hospital had four deaths associated to the virus since South Africa’s first case was reported in KwaZulu-Natal on March 5. However, during her address on Wednesday night, Simelane-Zulu said five Covid-19 deaths are linked to the hospital.

Read: SA’s first Covid-19 case reported

She said following the closure of parts of St Augustine’s Hospital last week, including its trauma and admissions units, the provincial department had decided to “close down the whole hospital indefinitely.”

The closure of the hospital, however, is yet to be confirmed by JSE-listed Netcare. The company is South Africa’s largest private hospital group and St Augustine’s is Netcare’s largest medical campus in the country.

Moneyweb understands that most patients at the hospital are now being moved to nearby Netcare and other private hospitals in Durban, barring the Covid-19 positive patients who will remain at a quarantined ward at the hospital.

According to Friedland, there are 1 982 people working on the campus of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, inclusive of healthcare workers, nurses, contractors and doctors.

“More than half of these individuals have already been swabbed. Thus far, a total of 504 people have tested negative and we are awaiting the results of a further 318 people.

“These results are reported on a daily basis to the head of the KZN Department of Health’s Covid-19 task team.”

Meanwhile, with South Africa’s death toll from Covid-19 now standing at 18, half of these people were in KwaZulu-Natal. Of the province’s nine confirmed deaths, eight were people aged over 60.

Source: National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD)/ Department of Health

Gauteng, the Western Cape and Free State have each had three confirmed coronavirus-linked deaths.

Mkhize’s latest update shows that Gauteng now has 782 confirmed cases of Covid-19, followed by the Western Cape with 495 cases; KwaZulu-Natal with 354 cases; and Free State with 88 cases.

Read: Six or seven of every 10 people in SA ‘will get Covid-19’

The Eastern Cape province now has 45 confirmed cases, while Limpopo and Mpumalanga have 21 cases each; North West 15; and the Northern Cape 13. The 1 845 Covid-19 cases in South Africa were confirmed from 63 776 tests conducted. Eleven cases are ‘unallocated’ currently.



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Now that is fine – at the rate this is going to hit us there should be no open hospitals in SA within a month.
Oh wait in state hospitals people only die of natural causes ne !!

Putting in place safety measure must be too expensive?

Staff working at Government hospitals, then moonlighting, and transferring it, not out of the question!!??

Other way round. We know how it entered SA. So ya, its more like private to public hospital spread.

And yes, doctors do work between public and private hospitals. Its all above board. And also plenty doctors move between many hospitals. But we can lock down all the doctors if you want?

Wow. Massive assumptions and an unsubstantiated assumption. You must be one of those people who spreads the fake news stories on WhatsApp.

The irony. This just proves that SA Govt is asleep at the wheel regards Corona.


So they decided to test at one hospital and this was the result.

You can forget about believing any Covid-19 stats the SA Govt puts out. The incompetent lot are just ticking boxes.

So glad I dumped those NetCare shares at R33. Now down to R15. It is not all their fault. Government with its NHI has contributed as well. But value destruction is what the ANC does best.

Oh you dumped it didn’t you?

I would rather be exposed to Netcare than Hyprop or some other REIT.

I hope a lot of you drop the share. Live in the moment. Some of us are just forward looking.

The challenge for us as readers of Moneyweb is to take notice of the reaction of the masses and the reactions of governments to the threat of the COVID epidemic and to look through all the chaos, ad-hoc measures and arbitrary decisions that are based on unproven and faulty models and to learn something from it. There will be some very costly lessons here.

Authorities seem to ignore the fact that there is a direct link between the health of the economy and the health of the nation. The socialists profess that “lives matter” and that “the economy is only for the wealthy”. This is how they motivate lockdown. They tend to forget that the economy determines the size of the population. They forget that taxes fund the social grant, state hospitals, medical services, food schemes and free education. They are oblivious to the fragility and complexity of supply chains and how quickly shelves run empty when the weakest link in the supply chain is cut. They forget that an entrepreneur can only amass wealth if he constantly serves the consumer. They forget that the service to the consumer is the foundation of property ownership.

If lives matter, then all the focus should be put on the economy. The free market system with individualism, property rights and the rule of law allows every individual to be responsible for his health. Lockdown measures are a temporary infringement on property rights and personal liberty. There are costs involved. It is a tradeoff. While lockdown may postpone some deaths, it brings forward malnourishment, hunger and compromised immune systems. It brings forward, by decades, the risk of financial ruin. It is like compound interest. The mechanism by which you try to save lives now determines the exponential growth in the number of casualties later.

Consumers cannot afford an extension of lockdown measures.

No one has the model for the ‘free for all’ approach.

When I last checked there is no free in the free market. Everything comes at a price.

Its up to the individual to protect him/herself.i am sure by now everyone knows to keep a distance when in public

Sorry, Sensei, I disagree with this thesis.

A contagion is what it is!

And the ONLY treatment for contagion is what it is – ISOLATION.

The more dangerous the contagion, the more aggressive and draconian the countermeasures have to be applied to ensure a future survival.

With respect, your thesis CANNOT resolve the issues arising from treating this pandemic, because it focuses on the WRONG questions.

That you raise concerns about the severity of the consequences is IRRELEVANT.

For SA to come out successfully at the end of this calamity, we are going to have to RUTHLESSLY apply ECONOMIC TRIAGE. To EVERY facet of our society. And endure the consequences of doing so!

Triage is NOT about saving individuals. It’s about saving the OVERALL situation so that there will be a future. At all!

That means ALLOWING seriously sick businesses to die, and focusing ONLY on those with GOOD prospects for survival.

We simply don’t have the capacity to look after the chronically ill ie those that “recover” only partially, and remain a millstone around our necks.

These businesses (and institutions) need to be ACTIVELY killed off. And ASAP.

Think of it this way, an event that happens to someone (meaning individuals, families, companies, nations) is ALWAYS some sort of TEST – for Good or Bad – of that person or institution’s FORESIGHT and PREPARATION for these future events (REGARDLESS of whether they were forseen (or even forseeable!).

Think of EVERYTHING that happens to you, HOWEVER it occurs, as a sort of audit or stress-test of the quality and durability of the principles you ACTUALLY live by.

As opposed to the BS that you PRETEND you do.

Didn’t look after your health through the years? Now you are vulnerable to a disease that would otherwise only affect you mildly.

Whose fault is that?

The idiots in China who released this disease into the world?

Or you?

Because stuff happens.

And vulnerable YOU is now being caught out by how you CHOSE to prepare your life??

Decisions have CONSEQUENCES!

And so today SA sits facing quite probably the greatest calamity ever to have befallen us.

As a nation, we are NOT the innocent victims of the consequences we now have to sort out.

Those are just our chickens coming home to stress-test the roost, because we lived a culture of indiscipline and irresponsibility blaming others, when instead, the cause lies DEEP within our OWN cultures.

This is the most monumentally stupid rant I have ever read. I guess you also feel that the institutionally entrenched looting of the treasury is also something we should “get over”, because “stuff happens”. Wow!


I don’t have a problem with CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.

I’m seldom right, and I learn more from others than myself.

If you have a real point, then articulate it – PROPERLY. And offer a CONSTRUCTIVE and BETTER alternative.

And EVERYONE learns a something of value !

If you just wanna get angry and vent…

I suggest that there should be demands that no government employee from the State President down, should earn a cent as long as the lock down is in place. This excludes essential workers but not the cabinet. They may then take their decisions and the implications of closing down the economy more seriously.

They should lead by example and go without, starting immediately!

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn’t, pays it.” – Albert Einstein.

Depending on the duration of the shutdown of the operation of the free market system, it compounds the deaths that are now postponed and multiply it at a later stage.

I say again, lockdown does not cure the virus, nor does it prevent infection, it merely prolongs the curve by flattening it. It also postpones the herd immunity process. 80% of the population will contract the virus, and 4% of those, who have preexisting medical conditions will die. Lockdown will not change these facts.

We are seeing new scientific evidence that it serves no purpose to put schools in lockdown. Old-age homes can benefit from lockdown. It serves no purpose to ban alcohol and cigarettes or any other business activity for that matter. If there is one major contributor to the spread of the virus, then it is the taxi industry. No lockdown there!

But then again guys, we read Moneyweb to open our eyes to opportunities and all these uninformed, warped, biased and emotional ideas I get from commentators about the epidemic make me realise that I should embrace their opinion and accommodate it into my model so I can profit from it. Irrationality and emotional overreactions provide great opportunities at bargain prices to the minority who can see through the fog. Einstein was right, as always.

What nonsense….!! what good comes from losing a huge chunk of the population? Lockdown is not meant to cure the virus. Its meant to stop it spreading. Your thinking is in line with USA, Spain, UK and Italy. Putting their economy and free movement of people first. Guess what. The countries who have handled this best are the ones that we hear the least about and from i.e. South Korea, Singapore, China even Hong Kong… They acted fast and hit it early and now life will slowly return to normal… The west waited and waited until its now totally out of control. for all the new scientific evidence….(and new evidence comes out daily it seems) I see evidence in the numbers. New Jersey has more than 4 x the infection rate and around 7 times the death rate of South Korea.

Jay, I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but lockdown is not meant to stop the virus from spreading. It is only meant to slow down the rate of infection, not to prevent infection. The Health Minister was correct when he said that it is a given that 80% of the population will be infected by the virus.

Your odds of getting the virus is 80%, lockdown or no lockdown. Do you really think that any man-made intervention will prevent nature from delivering this message that was designed especially for you? This piece of code written on a strand of DNA and wrapped in a membrane of fat is delivered by the most efficient courier service on earth.

This message will reach those corners of the earth that do not even have cellphone reception and where there is no internet or postal service. It took billions of years of evolution to perfect this code, so it can be distributed by the courier service and delivered to your door, in lockdown. Amazing isn’t it? Its a miracle.

Sensei….. lockdown is not meant to cure the virus…. like you state. I don’t know which country you live in but how do you explain to masses of uneducated vulnerable people who live in 2x2m shacks to manage their own health. Get your head out of the sand. We are one country and though many us us live in leafy suburbs where we can safely self isolate and quarantine, most of our country could be decimated by this….. first world western economies who you worship have locked down and realized that they could not allow life to carry on as per usual. BTW Wuhan and S Korea are reporting days of no new infections…. so clearly they are doing many things that western “experts” should take note of….

What’s the statistics at other hospitals?

This is very progressive of the Health Department…does this imply the next occasion the people’s get poor service at a state hospital similar focus/action/accountability will be served?

Italy’s case 0 started with him being discharged from hospital without the correct diagnosis.

So why did remove my comment – because I called it the Chinese Virus?

‘’In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence’’
Laurence J Peter (1919-90)
KZN health dept shuts down Netcare hospital
After over 60 people test positive for COVID-19 at St Augustine’s, including 47 staff.
I think Netcare is being unfairly and unjustly criticized by generalizing and assuming that all their hospitals are full of the Chinese Virus.
That simply isn’t true – we were informed that Netcare Montana does not have one Chinese Virus patient in its wards – they are well prepared and will react when any problem arises!
It should also be remembered that St Augustine’s is Netcare’s largest medical campus in the country.

lol..when confronted the ceo said he was going to “craft” a response.

End of comments.




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