Netcare hospital under scrutiny as staff contract coronavirus

33 people are in self-isolation and a further 14 are being accommodated to safely self-quarantine – CEO.
The 464-bed Netcare St Augustine's Hospital in Durban, one of the group's largest hospital's in South Africa. Image: Netcare St Augustine's Hospital Facebook Page

JSE-listed private hospital group Netcare is facing a Covid-19 fallout as more than 40 staff members have tested positive for the contagion coronavirus at its St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban.

On Tuesday Health Minister Zweli Mkhize warned that the parts of the hospital could close, after confirming that 66 people linked to the hospital, including 48 staff members [officially 47], have thus far tested positive for Covid-19.

St Augustine’s is the largest private hospital in KwaZulu-Natal and is regarded as one of the flagship healthcare facilities within Netcare, South Africa largest hospital group.

“We are concerned about developments at St Augustine’s Hospital. 66 [people] tested positive over the past few days. About 48 of them are staff. The provincial health department is engaging the hospital, with a view to closing parts of the hospital down,” Mkhize said.

“We hope the fumigation process will start soon there. We have also assigned specialists there. We must always be on the lookout. The infection can seep in from any institution.

“We must now trace all the contacts. It is a matter of serious concern and we are dealing with it,” he added.

On Friday KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala revealed during a media briefing that 11 healthcare workers from a private hospital in Durban had tested positive for Covid-19. He did not mention the hospital, however local media reported that it was the Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital.

Following Zikalala’s statement, Netcare Group CEO, Dr Richard Friedland, confirmed that the hospital’s trauma unit had been closed and the hospital was no longer taking any new admissions.

In a statement sent to Moneyweb on Wednesday, Friedland clarified that 47 staff at St Augustine’s Hospital had tested positive for Covid-19.

Of the staff and doctors tested, we confirm that 47 people who are connected with our hospital have tested positive for Covid-19.

“Of the 47 positive cases, 33 are in self-isolation and a further 14 are being accommodated by Netcare to ensure that they are able to safely self-quarantine,” said Friedland.

He noted that one staff member who tested positive, has since tested negative following his period of self-quarantine and has since returned to work. The hospital has 15 patients currently who tested positive, while there have been four deaths related to the virus.

“We are deeply saddened that, despite our very best efforts and precautions, there have been a total of four Covid-19 associated deaths at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital since the outbreak started in South Africa,” said Friedland.

“As a healthcare group that holds the sanctity of life above all else, every death is one too many. At this tragic time, we wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of the people who passed away. They are in our thoughts and prayers,” he added.

Friedland assured South Africans that Netcare was “sparing no effort or cost” to keep every person in its care, including its staff and doctors, as safe as possible.

“Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital has a total of 15 pre-existing community acquired Covid-19 patients in its dedicated Covid-19 isolation units at present.

“Of these patients, we can confirm that one person has already recovered and tested negative and is expected to be discharged shortly,” he noted.

Meanwhile, following Zikalala’s comments on Friday, Mkhize appealed to anyone who had visited St Augustine’s Hospital since the beginning of March to be tested for Covid-19. At the time he said around 150 tests linked to the hospital had already been carried out.

Giving an update on South Africa’s latest Covid-19 numbers on Tuesday, Mkhize announced that there were 1 749 confirmed cases at that stage, with 13 deaths. He said that the patients being treated were “slowly recovering” and added that mass testing had started in all provinces.

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The figures makes no sense. If 48 staff members tested positive where are the hundreds perhaps thousands, family, friends, public, they have interacted with? Working in a hospital primarily lends itself for a virus infestation. To close the hospital just means fewer resources to care for patients. How many other hospitals have been tested. Perhaps world wide, testing hospital staff was put on the back burner as authorities realised that many would test positive and if there are no staff there is no care for patients. Remember 80% plus people will experience this virus as mild. Many hospital staff presently could be carrying the virus mildly and still are caring for the very sick without realising. If their hygiene practice is in place transmission in any case will be curbed. Or is there another agenda with regards to our private health care?

Something is not adding up. That is just ONE hospital.

There is just not enough testing and certain frontline staff are getting a huge viral load.

The ANC government is censoring the numbers and controlling the narrative.

Well, if you look at the level of testing, versus the number of new infections, then it does suggest that we are not seeing the full picture…

Jordan Peterson a clinical Phycologist wrote this “Beware of the big lie (in Hitler’s terms) something so large and audacious that you cannot accept someone would intentionally fabricate it. This could be about who to blame for your faults, or what you should do with your life.”

In simple terms we all accept and to some degree we all tell a few white lies, but then these politicians come a long and tell such massive lies that the average person entertains it’s as a truth because which reasonable person would be so audacious to tell such a big lie .

Folks the number are fake, the drop of sewage has contaminated the Champagne and the best you can do is put on as many filters as possible not only for the lies, fake news buy also the virus in the air.

Who really knows the truth?

Where do these unfortunate people live? How are there social distancing practices at home within their community? There have already been Union Talk that nurses are not adequately protected. Maybe there are no protection against the virus?

How is it we were testing 100 plus positive on the day before lockdown and now suddenly 20/30/40 per days since then. This doesn’t make sense. Everywhere else it has taken a week after lockdown to see a drop in cases

Results manipulation !!!

The amount of testing has reduced dramatically. Initially it was a lot of private individuals testing, those returning from holiday or those who suspected they have it. Now that lock down is in place, very little private testing is taking place, but rather government testing. Less testing means less cases.

To get a proper number, we need to test something like 1% of the population, whereas we have only testing 0.01% – however this is in line with other emerging economies.

Uve hit the nail on the head. I’m hearing acouple cases coming out of virtually every township currently, not big numbers, 1 or 2 here and there – what’s yr logic telling u here….

They are only now starting to test properly. People have been turned away if they are asymptomatic and you can bet there are many more positives out there that won’t be tested unless their condition worsens.

There is no doubt the govt is controlling the numbers and going after people who post negative statements on social media. This is truly an Orwellian nightmare. The hard left marxists in govt love this totalitarian control. Imagine a world where someone like Cele is in charge?

Well, Lesotho has ZERO cases….

But, they have never done any tests….

Private healthcare quality.

A rip-off

but wait till SA gets private power generation!

Based upon my experience I doubt that St Augustine is representative of private hospital quality.

It’s the biggest by size (bed count), one would think the owners would treat it as flagship and show what they are capable there.

I doubt that from the Minister of Health downwards anybody has the faintest clue as to the numbers.

What about those dying in the rural areas from what they think is flu and then just burying them.

The published stats are one thing makes us feel good, then there is the truth………….the real picture.

Hospitals are dangerous places! So are residences in South Africa. The most dangerous place in South Africa, second to hospitals, are family homes. In South Africa, we have 36 violent deaths per 100 000 people annually. That is 58 people per day, every day. 80% of those deaths are withing the family structure. Our incidences of domestic violence and rape are of the highest in the world, and it makes the home a very dangerous place for many South Africans.

Lockdown is a death sentence for these women and children who are victims of abuse. Statically the safest place in South Africa is underground, in one of our platinum or gold mines. The amount of work-related fatalities are far less than the cases of domestic violence. By forcing people to stay away from work, and by confining them to their homes, we are not doing them, or their families, any favours.

The lockdown measures ensure that the patient will never need the ventilator because the defibrillator could not save him. With our unique demographics of crime and violence, lockdown measures will divert a run on ventilators to a run on defibrillators.

These drastic measures might serve some purpose in First World countries, but in South Africa, we might be compounding our problems. The road to hell is paved with good intention (and ignorance).

In about 10 days time we will know for sure. I pray it won’t get to the expected levels of mortality. But why would we be any different from anywhere else in the world?
This is not just a cold or flu.
My question is – does all this money I have paid to the medical aid/ medical insurance, over all these years reserve a ventilator for me and/or my family should, God forbid, we need one, or has it all been for nothing?

You are adequately ensured against much larger risks than COVID. Your prudence will stand you in good stead. You are paying a monthly premium to get peace of mind, and you will get value for money. I have no doubt about that.

Behind the curve spiking again..

Since the outbreak, hospitals have to separate COVID check areas with regular visitations. Anyone entering has to be masked and temperature checked.

I’ll take a bet that only 5% of SA hospitals are doing this. Italy, China, Spain, US all had these problems and learned the hard way.

Hospitals have been one of the biggest spread hubs and you lose a lot of medical staff when shut down.

Was this “Ground Zero” didn’t the first 7 cases in South Africa come from a Natal skiing trip in Italy?

Look at the way, this, virus is just, popping up everywhere…. Like bed bugs, in the house… Where ever u get down, on yr hands and knees its there jumping all over the place.. Look in each room from the room way thu and it all looks fine…. And that number still sitting at 1750……. Rubbish!!!
This is just the tip of the ice berg….. And to think we all plan on coming out of lock down in another 10 days or less. U must be joking… Government may, be, forced to lie and tell, us, it’s OK inorder to try save what’s left of this economy…… Screw that… 3 to 4 weeks from now and we should be in the center of this mess,….. Na I’m passing this one out for the next 70 days in lock down… Be the 30 % that doesn’t catch it….this is all about choices now – make the right one.

” rich superspreaders from european travels to ski resorts and busy bars/pubs in united kingdom”

End of comments.

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