South Africa: Patients Turned Away From PE Clinic After Nurse Contracts COVID-19

Patients have been turned away at Veeplaas Clinic in Port Elizabeth since Monday. This follows a nurse at the facility apparently contracting Covid-19.

The health workers at the facility have said they will not return to work until the provincial health department organises for them to be tested.

There is concern that the nurse may have been infected at a funeral attended by more than 400 people a few weeks ago, as reported by the Daily Dispatch. But beyond rumour, it has been impossible to verify this.

Ward 30 councillor Mbulelo Gidane (ANC) ordered the clinic to be closed.

"I said the clinic must be closed after one of the staff members started to show symptoms a week ago, after attending the funeral," said Gidane. "The staff member tested positive for Covid-19. I took this decision to protect the vulnerable community of Veeplaas."

Gidane said the clinic has since been fumigated and the staff have been tested for Covid-19.

The staff have been instructed to return to work, but they have not at the time of writing received their tests results. Secretary of the Veeplaas Clinic Committee Welcome Mbotyi confirmed that they've been tested, but that staff believe it is important to know their Covid-19 status before serving patients. "This clinic serves about 3,000 households," he said.

Some of the patients who were turned away were unhappy with this decision.

Nandipha Abrahams said: "I am confused and I don't know what to do." She said her baby was supposed to get an injection. "On Tuesday I am supposed to go for my chronic medication instead of Monday because of the Easter Monday. The pills I am left with would last me only until Sunday. If the clinic does not open that means I will live without my treatment."

Pumelele Selana said: "I came here to get my TB treatment. But the security guard says the clinic is closed. He did not tell me the reason and when it will reopen."

Zoliswa Qalanto said: "I am pregnant. This was a date for my check-up. The guard said the clinic is closed because one of the nurses has been infected with Coronavirus. Now I have to go to KwaMagxaki or Zwide clinics which are very far. They also have their own long queues."

Judy Ngoloyi spokesperson for MEC of Health Sindiswa Gomba said: "All 15 staff members have been tested and are awaiting results. Services were not rendered at the facility because we wanted to exercise caution. The Department is aware of the incident. Services should be back to normal by Tuesday."

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