KZN Health MEC dismayed by torching of R6m facility at Catherine Booth Hospital, incident prompts talk of hospital closure

30 Jluy 2020

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has lambasted the actions of unknown people who burned down a R6m building at Catherine Booth Hospital, at Amatikulu near Eshowe, in the early hours of this morning.

It is believed that the torching of this brand-new centre – which was also burned down three years ago - is linked to disquiet among sections of the community over the conversion of a section of the hospital into a COVID – 19 treatment facility.

The fully-furnished centre, with computer equipment and some patient files, also had offices for the occupational safety nurse, monitoring and evaluation personnel, infection prevention and control officials, as well as the public relations officer.

The incident, which also saw shots being fired, took place between midnight and 1am, and left a security guard with a facial injury after he was hit by a missile.

It has prompted the MEC to consider invoking a process to close down the hospital.

The 127-bedded Catherine Booth Hospital currently has 39 patients, three of whom are in isolation and receiving treatment for COVID – 19, while another two are in quarantine, awaiting their results.

KwaZulu-Natal has had 71 240 confirmed COVID – 19 cases (37 988 are still active); 769 deaths; and 32 482 recoveries. The province has registered 3164 new cases since Tuesday (28 July 2020). At King Cetshwayo District, 5011 people have tested positive for COVID – 19, while 69 have sadly passed away. At least 2455 people have recovered in the district.

Speaking from the hospital, as part of her COVID - 19 inspection tour of King Cetshwayo district, MEC Simelane-Zulu says the Department has a huge and urgent responsibility to provide as many beds as possible to treat patients with COVID – 19, and does not need permission or consultation with any member of the community to use health facilities as it deems fit.

"We are in a crisis. This is a pandemic that all of us are faced with. And the Department has a responsibility to ensure that it provides all the beds that are needed, so that those who are COVID – 19 positive get the assistance they need.

"We're going to continue using this hospital for COVID as and when it is necessary for us to do so. So, if the community does not allow us to do that, it means they do not need this hospital. So, we might then need to go back to the Premier and request that this facility be closed down, because we’re not going to have a facility that will be a white elephant and not be utilised."

"Right now, the Department, province and country needs beds for COVID. So, when we are stopped from utilising a facility to save people's lives… that is something we're not going to tolerate. That is anarchy, and we will not stand aside and watch."

Issued by the KZN Department of Health

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This page last edited on 30 July, 2020

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