CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #82
Another Nelson Mandela Bay hospital cracks, while the Western Cape admits most people refuse its quarantine facilities
On Thursday, it came to light how another hospital in Nelson Mandela Bay is nearing collapse under the pressure of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Western Cape confirmed that 70% of people offered a space at its quarantine or isolation facilities refuse it. National immunisation coverage dropped by 20% during lockdown Level 5. The South African Union of Students has told Parliament that poor students are being left behind by both online learning and the phased return to campus.
Swipe through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 25 June at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga did not provide an update by the time of publishing:
“Pregnant women went into labour in the passages as doctors washed floors stained with blood and other fluids.”
“With no staff to deliver food, patients starve.”
“Gloves have run out and doctors are recycling protective gear as they are often given only ill-fitting and flimsy aprons to work with.”
“A woman died this morning. She bled to death in front of our eyes and we tried everything, but we couldn’t help her. We are all traumatised.”
“The hospital mortuary is full.”
This is the reality of the maternity ward in Dora Nginza Hospital, Nelson Mandela Bay, this week. As hospitals in the rest of the metro reached capacity, Covid-19 patients flooded the hospital. Yet, the hospital was not regularly deep cleaned. Porters, cleaners and nurses have refused to work until this is rectified. This left six doctors managing emergencies on their own. Its services have all but collapsed under the pressure. Read Estelle Ellis’s report here.
In the Western Cape, about 70% or more of people who cannot quarantine or isolate at home have refused to go to provincial quarantine and isolation facilities, said Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo at a press briefing on the status of quarantine and isolation in the province. As Sandisiwe Shoba writes, the province says this may be because of fear of stigmatisation and wariness of the limitations on their freedom of movement.
Lockdown may have a lasting effect on the culture around funeral rites in South Africa, says the president of the country’s largest funeral practitioners’ association, Libo Mnisi. Mnisi notes that funerals have changed from smaller to more elaborate events during his 40 years of business experience in the industry. As Malibongwe Tyilo writes, he predicts the smaller funerals enforced during lockdown may be here to stay, with huge financial implications for the industry.
National immunisation coverage for children of under five dropped by 21% in April during lockdown, versus April 2019, according to the most recent figures from the Department of Health. There is no clear answer to why this happened. As Adele Baleta reports, this poses a risk of outbreaks of disease after the lockdown is lifted.
Only 12,000 higher education students received laptops out of a student population of 22,000, according to South African Union of Students president Misheck Mugabe during a briefing to the committee of higher education, science and technology. The student union told the committee how poor students were being left behind in online learning because of a lack of access.
They were also being excluded from returning to campus because they did not have private accommodation. As Karabo Mafolo reports, the committee said the presentation was helpful as “we’re able to move from the general to the specifics”.
On Thursday, almost 43,400 people in Cape Town had Covid-19 – it is truly the epicentre within the epicentre. The city’s Wyngaardt family has shared their experience of staying at a quarantine facility and the experience of having Covid-19 as a family. Gonda Perez, also in Cape Town, reflects on losing two close family members to Covid-19 while in self-isolation. While their experiences are different, the strength and importance of human connection runs throughout.
Meanwhile, the National Arts Festival kicked off on Thursday – online. For the first time, the festival is being hosted online over 11 days because of the lockdown. A virtual pass gets festival-goers access to pre-recorded performances of theatre, music and dance as well as films, live broadcasts, visual “art walkabout” and workshops. Even the Village Green has gone virtual. Tiara Walters outlines some of her highlights from the programme. DM
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