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Eastern Cape boosts capacity to fight COVID-19

Apr 22, 2020
Eastern Cape boosts capacity to fight COVID-19

East London - The Eastern Cape is gearing up for its fight against COVID-19 with the province boosting its hospital capacity.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize paid the Eastern Cape a visit on Tuesday where he met with the Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba.  

Mkhize was taken through the province’s contingency plans to fight the outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“We just came here to Cecilia Makiwane hospital to look at the progress of the work in converting the old hospital into new additional beds which will be available to admit patients with COVID-19. We have also been made aware that there is additional space for a field hospital to be set up here.  

“We need to anticipate an increasing number of patients that will land up in the hospital and so the way the province has worked on this issue is quite encouraging,” said the Minister.

Mkhize says a derelict part of the hospital which was set to be abandoned has been checked and found to be structurally sound for conversion.  

“So it will now in future be useful to convert it into a district hospital bed which means we are not going to abandon it although there is a whole new wing of the hospital which was commissioned two years ago,” he said.

As of 20 April 2020 the Eastern Cape has 310 confirmed COVID-19 cases with the province’s first set of cases linked to a funeral. The Minister said widespread awareness of funerals as a breeding ground for transmission is crucial in fighting the spread of the virus.  

“It is important to teach people how the cross infections happens, for example the large numbers in funerals are a challenge. We need to teach our people how to reduce the numbers,” said Mkhize.

The close proximity in funeral settings where mourners comfort each other was among the things highlighted by the Minister as an area of concern.

“The closeness is a problem when people don’t know who has the infection, so it is important for people to wear masks.

“People must wear masks even at funerals. These are some of the teachings that we need to take to our people - that this COVID-19 is going to force us to change the way we do things. And we are not changing just for fun. We are changing because this is the only way that we can reduce the cross infections,” he said.

Overcrowding at correctional facilities

With confirmation from the Correctional Services Department last week that 53 inmates tested positive for COVID-19, the Health Minister emphasised that the approach to dealing with the virus remained the same.  

“The issue really is that correctional services are overcrowded so I am aware that the Minister is busy dealing with the issue of how to decongest and reduce the numbers.

At the end of the day the approach is similar everywhere. We need to keep the distance, we need to make sure that those who are found to be positive must be isolated and go for treatment. Those who are contacts must be quarantined separately so that we can check that they don’t have the infection,” said the Minister. 

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