Covid-19: DA welcomes long overdue release of KZN hotspot areas

Issued by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Health
27 Jul 2020 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the long overdue release of information regarding Kwazulu-Natal’s (KZN) Covid-19 area hotspots by Premier, Sihle Zikalala and his Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu (view here and here).

The information, released yesterday, confirms that large, densely populated areas – particularly within eThekwini and Msunduzi – are at the greatest risk with local hotspots including Umlazi, KwaMashu, Phoenix, Chatsworth, Imbali and Northdale.

The DA has been calling on Premier Zikalala to release this information since March when the pandemic first arrived in KZN. That he and his MEC have finally capitulated and done so is a move in the right direction. We will, however, continue to place pressure on the ANC-led provincial government to release daily Covid-19 data for municipalities and sub-districts.

The release of detailed information is critical as our province is rocked by this health crisis. This opinion is backed by experts within the Ministerial Advisory Committee and the World Health Organisation (WHO) who have advised that when more information is given to the public, there is a greater uptake in terms of sanitary precautions and the following of regulations. During this pandemic, knowledge is power when it comes to reducing community spread and rising infections – ultimately it helps to save lives.

The local Covid-19 hotspots, as identified by the Premier include areas such as Umlazi, KwaMashu, Phoenix, Chatsworth, Imbali and Northdale. These areas correlate with reports of overwhelmed hospital wards at facilities including Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital (MGMH) and the RK Khan and Northdale Hospitals.

KZN is currently seeing a surge in Covid-19 case numbers, with more than 3 500 new cases daily. According to MEC Simelane-Zulu, the province has 16 000 hospital beds which means that there is currently no shortage of beds. The current challenge lies with certain hospitals being overwhelmed while other facilities are under-utilised. It is for this reason that the DA is calling for a Bed Coordination committee to be established to monitor bed occupancy and to ensure the transfer of patients from overwhelmed hospitals to hospitals and field hospitals where beds are vacant.

The DA remains concerned for the wellbeing of KZN’s frontline heroes, our healthcare workers where there are currently 2 164 Covid-19 infections and 16 deaths. We send our deepest condolences to their families. The KZN Department of Health (DoH) sharp fault-lines of under-staffing, lack of equipment and arrogant facility management have become even more pronounced during this pandemic. This is putting more emotional, psychological and social strain on our vital healthcare workers.

We are also concerned by reports of nursing staff at some hospitals opting for early retirement during this period due to working conditions. This needs to be investigated by the Department.

The DA encourages all citizens to wear masks, to maintain a physical distance of two metres from others and to wash their hands or use a hand sanitiser. It is up to every resident of our province to play their part in keeping both themselves and their families safe.