A Dimbaza pensioner who tested positive for Covid-19, which claimed the life of his wife last week, has been told to leave Frere Hopital in East London.
Mzimkhulu Mfana, 80, was told on Sunday afternoon there was no longer a bed available for him and he should quarantine at home, according to a relative.
But provincial health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the Mfana family’s version of events had “a lot of distortions”.
Mfana’s wife Ntomboxolo succumbed to Covid-19 related complications on Tuesday last week after spending two nights at Frere Hospital.
She was buried on Thursday, a day after her husband was admitted to the same hospital.
Mzimkhulu and Ntomboxolo, as well as their grandchildren, aged five and 12, all tested positive for the coronavirus. The children’s mother was also placed in quarantine at Grey Hospital.
Mzimkhulu’s nephew, Ntuthuzelo Eugene Mfana, told DispatchLIVE on Monday that his uncle was supposed to have been transferred to Grey Hospital in King William’s Town from Frere Hospital, but this did not happen because nurses at the former were protesting against the lack of protective equipment.
The two children had been quarantined at Grey Hospital since they tested positive for the virus, he said.
Ntuthuzelo said his uncle “was not treated as urgently and seriously as anyone who tested positive should be treated”.
“Health [department] is not ready because when a person is positive in rural areas they [the people] are unable to quarantine because they are illiterate [not aware of the virus].
“Government should take them to a quarantine place as they can infect each other easily in the villages because of ubuntu,” Ntuthuzelo said.
He said people in rural areas still shook hands as this was regarded as being respectful. In some instances water is scarce and there were no sanitisers available.
Ntuthuzelo said Mzimkhulu was taken from his home last Wednesday night and the two children the previous evening.
“The house has been fumigated to clean surfaces to make them coronavirus-free. This is very serious but it seems the health department don’t care.
“What am I supposed to do with someone with the deadly virus? I don’t have the right equipment to care for him.
“By bringing him back they want to wipe this family, kill all of us.”
But health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said Mzimkhulu had refused to go to hospital on Wednesday.
“When we sent an ambulance to take him to hospital he refused. The ambulance went there twice and left without [the] patient because he did not want to be taken to hospital.
“It took a number of people to plead with the patient to agree to go to hospital,” Kupelo said.
“On the third occasion a private ambulance was arranged by the department to take the patient to Frere Hospital.
“Upon examination the patient was proved to be symptomatic which means he is positive but not sick.
“On the day when there were reports that he is being discharged [Friday], the chief of staff from the office of the MEC and the deputy director-general were sent to Frere to handle the situation.”
He said Mzimkhulu was “currently at Frere, occupying an ICU bed though he is not sick”.
When DispatchLIVE put it to him that he was at home in Dimbaza, Kupelo said: “He’s been occupying (an ICU bed), he may have been discharged yesterday [Sunday].
“Patients who are positive are put in isolation. You will recall that there is no cure or treatment for Covid-19, however, those who are severely sick get managed and some prescription [medication] is given to them.
“Many of the patients, positive patients, are put in hospital for isolation purposes. But there is the option to isolate at home.
“Even those who are exposed to positive patients can quarantine at home, which is called self-quarantine. If the environment is not conducive for isolation an option of taking the patient to hospital is being considered,” Kupelo said.
He confirmed the children were at Grey Hospital.
“The mother has finished the 14-day period and once a person has finished the 14-day period that patient is eligible to go home.
“The mother of the children wants to be discharged with her own children, she is due to go home but she says she can’t go without her children. The children are still being isolated there.”