Thank you, Mkhize, for sending big hitter to Nelson Mandela Bay

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in Nelson Mandela Bay this week
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in Nelson Mandela Bay this week
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

Thank you, Zweli Mkhize! Finally, someone is doing something about the chaotic Covid-19 response in Nelson Mandela Bay. People here have been saying for weeks that the infection figures for the Eastern Cape, particularly the Bay, cannot be correct.

Some people who have pleaded to be tested have been ignored; others asking to be tested have allegedly been turned away at Livingstone Hospital.

Intervention by the national department is desperately needed.

Health workers are at the coalface of fighting the  pandemic have been complaining for weeks that they do not  have adequate protective gear.

On Wednesday, it emerged during a presentation to the health minister by Livingstone infectious diseases unit head Dr John Black that they were being  forced to reuse the plastic gowns they were given.

They cannot rewash them because the washing machine is broken.

Finally, medical professionals who may have been hesitant to speak up about the issues they are facing in dealing with the coronavirus were given a voice.

Black laid out the problems to Mkhize, who was in the Bay to assess the city’s preparedness for treating virus patients, and to try to figure out the discrepancy in provincial and national numbers, and what he believes are vastly understated numbers for the Bay.

After Black’s presentation, in which he painted a picture of a department hopelessly ill-prepared to deal with the coronavirus, Mkhize gave health MEC Sindiswa Gomba and her administrative staff a lambasting behind closed doors.

He said  it seemed like the Bay had been ignored in terms of the fight against Covid-19 and there appeared to be no-one in charge.

Mkhize said the deployment of deputy director-general of health Litha Matiwane to  take over in the Bay was therefore necessary.

Matiwane will pull together a strong, coherent response to be followed by teams undertaking tracing, screening and testing.

This city salutes you, Mkhize, for coming down yourself to investigate and acting immediately to put one of your own big hitters in charge.