Wednesday, 30 December 2020 18:43

Staff Reporter.

KwaZulu-Natal Health Department on Wednesday dismissed reports that the province was running out of beds due to a spike in COVID-19 infections.

The province said that it had moved with speed to implement various measures to manage the rapid spread of the virus.

In the latest COVID-19 statistics, KZN accounted for the most active cases in the country at just over 50,000.

According to KZN MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, General Gizenga and Ngwelezane hospitals, which were completed in September, were operational.

Speaking during a Zoom briefing on Wednesday, the MEC said challenges with oxygen infrastructure at the field hospital in Ngwelezane would be resolved soon.

"The Royal Show grounds, which will give us 254 beds, is being recommissioned and is expected to be functional in the next two weeks," she said.

Simelane-Zulu explained 22 Community Health Centres (CHCs), which have a combined total of 144 beds, would be re-purposed.

"Out of those, 30% of the beds have been re-purposed as Covid beds. These beds will be used for accommodating sick patients while waiting for transfer to the nearest hospital. In order to cope with this responsibility, CHCs have been provided with special equipment like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines, high flow nasal oxygen and rapid tests."

On the issue of re-purposing beds in existing hospitals, the MEC said beds in various hospitals have been designated for Covid-19 to provide 455 additional beds.

"Some of these beds will be re-purposed by delaying the decommissioning of Charles James and Don Mckenzie hospitals. However, these facilities will require additional human resources and equipment, something that we have been working on. New staff will be on site at these facilities, as of January 1," Simelane-Zulu said.

She said a multi-disciplinary provincial Covid-19 clinical protocol steering committee team was appointed.

This team, Simelane-Zulu said, has drawn up various clinical protocols and patient care management plans, which were meant to strengthen the fight against the coronavirus.

Simelane-Zulu has since labelled reports that the province is facing a bed capacity crisis as "disingenuous".