‘No case of Coronavirus in the province yet’ - Premier
Following rumours that there were some patients being treated for Coronavirus at the Frere Hospital in East London, Eastern Cape Premier, Lubabalo Mabuyane confirmed that, at the moment (Tuesday, March 17), there is no person in the Eastern Cape Province who has tested positive for the Coronavirus.
A voice note was also circulated in the province claiming that a person who was a guest at one of the hotels showed symptoms of the Coronavirus. “The provincial government and the hotel guest worked together for his medical tests and results came back negative,” cleared Mabuyane. This was also confirmed by Health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba who is also a member of the Council.
The province has announced a series of measures to protect citizens from Coronavirus. They are preparing hospitals to be ready for the treatment of severe cases and creating space to manage pneumonia and other severe cases.
There are 38 laboratories in the province that will be used for testing the Corona Virus. There are three main laboratories in East London, Port Elizabeth, and in Mthatha. Three identified isolation rooms are located at Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth, Frere Hospital in East London and Nelson Academic Hospital in Mthatha. There are medical specialists in all the latter three Tertiary Hospitals that are highly trained to deal with this pandemic.
“Because we do not have hospitals dedicated for the treatment of this pandemic, we will use marquee facilities as field hospitals to deal with flu cases. We will assign professional nurses from the system to work in the field hospitals to provide care to the patients. We will get 1 000 nursing assistants for a period of 12 months, 2 000 professional nurses will be trained and we will appoint unemployed nurses on a one-year contract,” declared Mabuyane.
All health workers working on this pandemic will be given Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as the N95 masks, gloves, plastic aprons to use when treating Persons Under Investigations, or people showing symptoms of the Corona Virus.
Swabs will be procured in large quantities to use for collecting specimens to be tested for the Corona Virus. Government promises to ensure that there is enough stock for food in all health centres and also adding more water tanks and soap for people to wash their hands as required.
An infrastructural boost is expected with the procurement of more equipment such as ventilators, oxygen, mobile or portable oxygen for the ICUs in field hospitals. For severe cases, spaces will be created in hospitals.
District response teams in all districts were trained to support community health workers, reach out to the community and the staff of the health centres with information to empower them to better provide healthcare.
Roadblocks will be set up at points of entry into the Eastern Cape such as roads, landing ports, airports and compulsory screenings will be conducted, according to the newly set-up Provincial Command Council chaired by the Premier, Lubabalo Mabuyane, to ensure that we are ready to deal with Coronavirus in the province.
The province will also roll out a radio based public education program to make public preventative measures by government.
“Major sporting, public and political events have been postponed and cancelled as part of measures to prevent the spread of the Corona Virus in the province. A team from the province is working with municipalities to identify events that were scheduled in municipalities that would attract massive numbers of the public. All these events will be cancelled in line with the decision to cancel all events that will attract more than 100 people,” said Mabuyane.
He added that this is a tough situation for the economy of the province and encourages all those that have been travelling to and from the countries affected by the Coronavirus to seek medical attention. The provincial disaster management center will be used for the coordination of the response to this pandemic.
Government is expected to engage and consult key stakeholders of the province from religious organizations, traditional leaders, businesses and key investors in the provincial economy about the plans in place to mitigate the possible spread of this pandemic.
“We will also work closely with the big manufacturers and assembly plants in the province that produce products for domestic and international markets to ensure that there is no spread of the virus,” he concluded.