As the national lockdown looms and it has been confirmed that the number of Covid-19 coronavirus cases has jumped to more than 700, the Netcare Group of hospitals has announced that visiting hours at its more than 50 hospitals across the country has been suspended, except in specific special circumstances.
This was announced by Dr Richard Friedland, Netcare chief executive on Wednesday morning. He said the measure was a further precaution against the spread of Covid-19.
“In light of the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, we needed to take extraordinary measures to protect all healthcare teams and our patients who cannot be discharged,” said Friedland.
“All visiting hours for general wards, intensive care units and the high-care units will be suspended with immediate effect.”
The only exceptions were “nurseries and neonatal intensive care units” where only one parent at a time would be allowed to visit newborns.
“This is on condition that the parent visiting has had no Covid-19 exposure and accepts that very strict infection prevention controls will be put in place to minimise the risks to their baby and other babies being cared for in these facilities. No grandparents and siblings will be allowed to visit,” said Friedland.
According to the group of hospitals, it would also allow only one parent at a time into all its paediatrics units to see an admitted child.
Exemptions would be made for gravely ill patients.
Friedland said an exception could be granted by the hospital general manager, as authorised by the regional director.
However, only a minimal number of visitors would be allowed regardless of this exception and they would be required to wear a mask and protective gear.
The announcement was made after Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize confirmed that the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 had jumped to 709, from 155 on Tuesday. These included two patients in ICU, who were being cared for in private hospitals.