"Please adhere to COVID-19 regulations, or risk being hit with stricter regulations like Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality," warns KZN Health MEC, as brand new COVID-19 facility is officially open at Amajuba Health District's Niemeyer Hospital
If the people of KwaZulu-Natal do not change their attitudes, the province is at risk of being slapped with tough new COVID-19 restrictions that are similar or more stringent than those imposed in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
This is the stern warning from KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, who was speaking during the official opening of a brand new COVID-19 facility at Niemeyer Hospital, at eMadlangeni (Utrecht), under Amajuba District, earlier today.
From a dilapidated facility with crumbling infrastructure, and makeshift beds positioned on the corridors, the 80 year-old district hospital has undergone an impressive major transformation in just six months.
It now has 33 brand-new fully-equipped isolation beds, state of the art buildings and other infrastructure; and an improved staff complement - all ready to treat patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.
MEC Simelane-Zulu said that Niemeyer was among the first hospitals that had to be repurposed, soon after confirmation of the country's first COVID-19 case in March 2020. Its renovation, which started on 08 May 2020 and was completed on 01 October, was done in line with the Department's approach that each of the province's 11 districts had to have a designated COVID-19 hospital.
MEC Simelane-Zulu said: "COVID was bad for us when it started. But it also gave us an opportunity to improve our facilities. I'm very excited to be here today, because when I compare what I saw when I first came to the facility, there's a huge difference."
"Today, we have a grade-A hospital that has proper isolation, and ICU beds. Even the patients are happy to come to this facility, and the clinicians here are quite happy to be working in an environment that looks like this."
"After COVID, we are going to bring back the services that the hospital was offering previously, but was unable to manage properly, due to a lack of infrastructure, which was falling apart."
MEC Simelane-Zulu has, meanwhile, described KwaZulu-Natal's growing COVID-19 cases as a cause for concern - particularly given that yesterday, more than 804 new cases were reported, in addition to a further 611 the day before.
As of today, the province has had a total of 131 725 confirmed COVID-19 cases (8906 are still active), and 3406 deaths. Within the latest 24 hour reporting period, the province has had 375 new infections.
"We've started the festive season...and because we couldn't hold the majority of activities and community programmes during the year, they've been shifted to the December holiday period," said the MEC.
"Unfortunately, if that is not managed properly, there's a likelihood of them becoming super-spreader events, which might spread the virus even further."
"As a result, we are calling on the community to ensure that they continue to adhere to the protocols...such as wearing their face masks; washing their hands regularly, with soap and water and hand sanitizer; and maintain social distancing."
"We're calling on our people to adhere to these regulations, because if they don't, Government will have to step in and be stricter.
"The President recently spoke about tightening the bolts in one municipality. We are not an exception. Should it become clear that we are becoming a hot spot as the Province of KZN, the President will do the same thing to us as a province in its entirety or as certain cities and towns within the province, where the numbers are increasing."
"So, we are calling on our people to really ensure that they adhere to these regulations, so that we are not affected adversely."