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Call made to healthcare facilities to adhere to new guidelines during lockdown

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‘It is imperative that public and private facilities follow guidelines like these to ensure that healthcare workers remain well and able to work, so that patients are not infected in facilities and that healthcare facilities remain open.’

A call has gone out to all healthcare facilities – both public and private – to adhere to new guidelines during the lockdown and for as long as the Covid-19 pandemic is an issue in South Africa. 

The public is urged to urgently alert the facility manager at their healthcare facility if they notice that guidelines are not being followed. There are already at least two healthcare facilities in South Africa that have been shut down as these guidelines were not followed, infecting healthcare workers or patients.

Dr JuliaTurner, senior technical advisor, from Right to Care, a leading healthcare NGO helping the Department of Health during the pandemic, said in a statement yesterday that the organisation was helping to implement the best practice guidelines from the National Department of Health and National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in public clinics and hospitals. 

“It is imperative that public and private facilities follow guidelines like these to ensure that healthcare workers remain well and able to work, so that patients are not infected in facilities and that healthcare facilities remain open.”

 The changes include:

Each time you go to a healthcare facility, you should be asked to wash your hands most likely even before you enter the building;

You need to be screened by a healthcare worker before you walk in, for symptoms of Covid-19 – if you have a fever, respiratory symptoms or a cough you must be immediately isolated and given a mask. If patients are not immediately separated, and one of them is diagnosed with Covid-19, patients and healthcare workers in the facility will need to be contact traced and will be quarantined for two weeks;

There needs to be a separate section at all facilities where suspected Covid-19 patients are isolated whilst they are being evaluated. This area should ideally be outdoors and everyone that is in this section needs to stand or sit one to two metres apart. Staff must wear protective gear in this area. Patients who are eligible will be tested for the virus; 

If you are suspected of having Covid-19, you will be given a surgical mask, you must cover your nose or mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue with a flexed elbow. You will also be asked to wash your hands if you cough or sneeze. If you need to move from this section, for an x-ray or for any other reason, you must wear a mask;

Patients that are suspected of having Covid-19 should ideally have their own bathroom, or the bathroom facilities must be cleaned appropriately; and

All healthcare workers are expected to have impeccable hygiene and gloves should be changed and equipment wiped down between suspected infected patients.

 If a healthcare facility is not following these guidelines and the facility manager is unresponsive or cannot be reached, a patient can call the emergency hotline on 0800 029 999 or the WhatsApp support line on 0600 123 456. 

“Right to Care is supporting the Department of Health with its Covid-19 response providing training and technical assistance including coordination, dedicated disaster management, enhanced surveillance, case identification and contact tracing, enhancing capacity for screening, testing, case management and communication,” Dr Turner said.