Pretoria hospital records 15 staff infections, contact tracing underway

Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, located near the Tshwane University of Technology to the north of Pretoria, has confirmed at least 15 internal coronavirus infections.

Motalatale Modiba of the Gauteng Health Department revealed that infected healthcare workers at George Mukhari Hospital had subsequently been placed in supervisory isolation, with intensified contract tracing efforts underway to ascertain the virus' spread to patients and colleagues.

Modiba added that three affected wards at George Mukhari Hospital were identified and disinfected as a priority. The wards have since reopened. Modiba explained:

"We can also assure the public that the affected parts of the hospital — three wards in particular – have actually been disinfected."

Concerns over George Mukhari Hospital

George Mukhari Hospital, which services the community of Ga-Rankuwa and has over 1 600 beds, also serves as a teaching facility. In 2019, the hospital came under severe scrutiny after the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) raised concerns about psychiatric wards which were overcrowded and under-resourced. Red flags were also raised by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku who reported a rise in deaths amongst premature babies born at the hospital.

Gauteng currently holds the second-highest number of COVID-19 infections at 7 953, accounting for 13.6% of national total.

FF Ribeiro Clinic impacted by COVID-19 infections

City of Tshwane spokesperson Selby Bokaba confirmed that the FF Ribeiro Clinic at the Sammy Marks Square shopping complex had been forced to close after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. Bokaba confirmed that contact tracing producers had been launched and ward fumigations would see the clinic reopen on Monday 15 June.

Tshwane, which accounts for just over 12% of infections in Gauteng, has received much-needed assistance from the Cuban Brigade, made up of doctors and healthcare professionals tasked with assisting overwhelmed facilities in South Africa.

Masuku confirmed that the Cuban Brigade would be deployed to dedicated coronavirus facilities, including Steve Biko Academic Hospital and the Tshwane District Hospital. The breakdown of Cuban healthcare professionals currently assisting in Tshwane, include:

  1. one biostatistician

  2. one health technologist[*]three physicians

Three Cuban epidemiologists have also been tasked with providing assistance across all Gauteng districts.

Masuku has thanked the Cuban Brigade for their assistance in the global fight against COVID-19, saying:

"Of course, the context is one that is unfriendly, even with this being so, South Africa remains a friendly nation which we want you to feel and be at home in."