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Patient tested for virus dies

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The patient, who is believed to be from out of Kimberley, was brought to Lenmed Royal Hospital and Heart Centre during the early hours of yesterday morning and was apparently accompanied by family members.

Forensics collecting the body from the hospital. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A FEMALE patient, who was treated at a private local hospital and was tested for the Covid-19 virus, has died after receiving medical treatment.

The test results for Covid-19 have not yet been confirmed.

A husband and wife from Hartswater have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus in the Northern Cape and are the only two positive cases in the Province so far.

The patient, who is believed to be from out of Kimberley, was brought to Lenmed Royal Hospital and Heart Centre during the early hours of yesterday morning and was apparently accompanied by family members.

The casualty section at Lenmed hospital was evacuated yesterday, while staff and patients who were in contact with the deceased were placed in isolation following the incident.

A team from forensics arrived to collect the body from the hospital, after 1pm yesterday, as funeral undertakers were uncertain about the protocols and risks associated with handling the corpse if it was found to be a positive coronavirus case.

It is believed that medical personnel tried to resuscitate the patient on her arrival, as she had gone into respiratory distress.

Pleas were made on social media for anyone who visited the casualty unit on Tuesday evening and the early hours of Wednesday morning to self-isolate.

Staff members indicated yesterday that they were afraid that they would be exposed to the virus.

Local funeral parlours meanwhile indicated that they were neither trained nor prepared to deal with bodies infected with the coronavirus.

They stated that they were waiting for formal notification of a meeting with the Sol Plaatje Municipality next week, to discuss how to deal with bodies infected with Covid-19.

One funeral undertaker said that he was merely taking extra precautions in line with handling infectious diseases.

Group marketing and communications manager of Lenmed Hospital, Michelle Naidoo, confirmed yesterday that a patient was admitted to the Lenmed Royal Hospital and Heart Centre in Kimberley.

“The patient presented with respiratory distress. Due to the nature of the patient’s symptoms, health care practitioners proceeded to test for Covid-19. Unfortunately, following numerous interventions, the patient later died,” said Naidoo.

She indicated that the treatment of the patient followed all National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID) guidelines as well as their own hospital standards.

“This includes the use of all necessary protective equipment for all employees and doctors.

“All potentially exposed employees are quarantined, pending the outcome of the results.”

Naidoo stated that the casualty unit was temporarily closed in order to conduct a deep clean of the unit, after which the facility, including the emergency units, were operating as usual from yesterday afternoon.

“No other patients were exposed. The safety of our patients, employees, visitors, doctors and community members is our priority.”

She added that all staff and facilities were prepared for the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Our procedures are aligned with the NICD guidelines Patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms, such as shortness of breath are requested to call the accident and emergency department, prior to arrival, to arrange for a possible admission. All other patients, including those with mild symptoms or those seeking testing, are requested to contact their general practitioners for advice.”

Naidoo expressed condolences to the bereaved family on behalf of hospital management. “We wish them strength during this difficult time.”

The spokesperson for the MEC for Health, Lebogang Majaha, said that they would follow up on the matter and comment at a later stage.

“As the patient reported to a private facility, they will have to comply with protocols in reporting any confirmed Covid-19 cases to the NICD.”