KZN healthworkers bear the brunt of COVID-19 surge

There's been a rise in COVID-19 infections among health workers in Kwazulu-Natal. Nursing union Denosa says more than 300 of its members in the province have had the virus so far. Over 7,000 of them have been infected in the province. Lethiwe Mdluli reports. Courtesy #DStv403

ADDINGTON - Nursing union Denosa says the personal protective equipment (PPE) given to healthcare workers is not good enough as the number of frontline workers testing positive for COVID-19 grows in hospitals.

Patients are now being diverted to other hospitals.

Addington is one of the affected hospitals - 38 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of December.

READ: SUMMARY: Ramaphosa announces additional COVID-19 restrictions

Mandla Shabangu from Denosa KwaZulu-Natal said the KN95 is not protecting members.

"What we have requested from the employer is that all the batches that are affected of this brand... must be withdrawn and our members be given masks that are quality improved."

Shabangu said Denosa supports the move to divert patients to other hospitals, but they're also concerned about whether or not their colleagues in those hospitals will be able to cope with the increase in patients.

READ: Denosa KZN: Recall KN95 masks

"When you divert patients from Addington, obviously they are going to go to King Edward, Kind Dinizulu or Prince Mshiyeni where you find already those hospitals are under pressure based on COVID challenges that are there," Shabangu said.

Meanwhile, emergency services officials say they have seen a growing number of COVID-19 patients recently.

IPSS's Paul Herbst said, "we've seen a dramatic increase in COVID-related patients so much more that we've increased our fleet from our daily operations compromise and double up on night operations as well."

READ: KZN sees rise in COVID-19 infections among health workers

They say even private hospitals are overwhelmed and in some cases, they've had to wait for hours to find a suitable bed.

IPSS's Janus van Schalkwyk said, "we've had patients presented with a heart attack hours apart and in the greater Durban area, we were unable to find even a single cardiac capable hospital to accept these patients."

"So, you are having someone who's got a life-threatening emergency that is extremely time-critical and we end up sitting on the side of the road for an hour trying to find a hospital that can actually accept us."


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