Netcare welcomes findings into Covid-19 outbreak at St Augustine's Hospital

Durban - The Netcare group has welcomed the findings of a report which investigated the outbreak of Covid-19 at the St Augustine's Hospital. On Wednesday, the investigative report was released and showed that between March 9 and April 30, there were 119 people – among them 39 patients and 80 staff members – who had confirmed cases identified at the hospital. Fifteen of the 39 patients died.

St Augustines Hospital in Durban, South Africa. Picture: AP Photo

St Augustines Hospital in Durban, South Africa. Picture: AP Photo

The investigation was led by UKZN academics, Dr Richard Lessells, Professor Yunus Moosa and Professor Tulio de Oliveira.

According to the report, the most plausible explanation for the outbreak is that there was a single introduction of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS?CoV?2) to the hospital in early March, most likely through transmission from a patient being assessed for Covid-19 in the emergency department to another patient being admitted at the same time with a suspected stroke.

The virus then spread widely through the hospital, involving patients and healthcare workers in at least five different wards.

All the recommendations and interventions made by the investigators have been fully implemented. In many cases these interventions were already in place and have been further strengthened and enhanced as a result of the valuable recommendations made by the report,' he said.

'In early March, we were rapidly learning about the nature of Covid-19 as many national policy guidelines were being changed and refined as the pandemic unfolded in South Africa. While this has been a sad and transformative experience for us, we are grateful that together with the National Department of Health and the Ministerial Advisory Committee, many valuable lessons have been learnt for our entire healthcare sector," Murphy said.

During this period, 15 patients died from Covid-19 related complications of their underlying health challenges. Netcare has extended its sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of those who passed away.

Murphy said two of the greatest challenges associated with Covid-19 were that those infected did not always show or have any of the symptoms, and the fact that the virus was highly infectious, notwithstanding the absence of any symptoms.

He said despite the presence of extensive and effective infection prevention measures, such as those in place within Netcare facilities, any workplace or gathering of people poses a potential risk for infection.

'Preventing the spread into and from the group's hospitals has been, and remains, of paramount importance to Netcare. The group proactively implemented comprehensive precautionary measures based on the information that was known at the time about the virus and how it spreads,' he said.

'We continue to learn more about the virus and are responding to new research with further precautionary measures. We wish to reiterate our sincere gratitude to all our healthcare workers, nurses and doctors, and their families for their incredible efforts under these trying and challenging circumstances,' Murphy said.

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News date: 2020-05-20