Over 500 health workers have been infected with the Covid-19 – coronavirus since South Africa reported its first case earlier in March. This is according to the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize who was speaking at a receipt of PPE donation event held in Rustenburg today – Wednesday.
South Africa has over 7000 COVID-19 positive cases and 138 deaths, so far.
The data from the Department of Health shows the private sector was the hardest hit, so far, with 285 infected healthcare workers, compared to 226 in the public sector. However out of 68 doctors infected with the virus, only 26 were in the private sector as opposed to 42 in the public sector.
“We have a total of 232 nurses who have tested positive and 156 of them are in the private sector and 76 are in the public sector,” the Health Minister said.
However high the infection rate may seem to be, the health Minister announced that only a fraction on these patients have been hospitalized. “Amongst them, 26 are hospitalized – the bulk of them are in self isolation. We have unfortunately lost two of those, one of whom was a 74 year old doctor who had retired and traveled abroad. We indeed express our condolences to the families affected,” said Mkhize.
The North West Province traced its first positive case of a health care worker to in Mid April, when a 54-year-old Klerksdorp gynaecologist tested positive. Although he had come in contact with 100 people including 56 patients and 44 employees, none of his contacts tested positive. The doctor has since recovered after he was quarantined at a Klerksdorp Hospital.
Meanwhile, speaking at the same event, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said that government will not hesitate to close down mines who do not comply with the regulations. “Should we decide to have an announced visit to a mine and we find an employee testing positive on duty, we will close the mine under section 24 or even revoke the license. We don’t care if you’re supplying Eskom with coal” Mantashe said.