Durban – The lawyer representing four people quarantined in Addington Hospital is considering applying for an urgent interdict for them to be allowed to be confined to their homes.
Mark Futcher said late on Friday that although Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu had not replied to his correspondence, he hoped she would respond favourably, “or we shall have to take more drastic action next week”.
The four were part of the group that returned home from Italy with the first patient in South Africa to have been tested positive for Covid-19, and his wife, who was later also discovered to have been carrying it.
The department said it “will not be held ransom by individuals who appear to be seeking special treatment”.
Citing a Gauteng case of a Covid-19 patient who had apparently been released into self-isolation before a negative test result, and another at Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, Futcher said he was concerned about a stark discrepancy in the handling of cases. He had demanded that his clients be released by noon yesterday, but had received no word from the department by then.
Meanwhile, the Medical Rights Advocacy Network has written to Addington Hospital’s CEO Mthetheleli Ndlangisa airing concerns that only one lift is working in the main building.
“We are greatly concerned that patients on these (top) floors may be marooned,” read the letter, signed by Mary de Haas and Poonitha Naidoo.
“We beg you to restore these lifts to full functioning, more especially in view of the coronavirus outbreak, and most especially that Addington Hospital is designated to accept and manage virus-infected patients requiring hospitalisation.”
Health department spokesperson Agiza Hlongwane said that the department couldn’t afford to completely overhaul the hospital infrastructure.
He said the Covid-19 isolation ward was in a different part of the hospital and is a single-floor building.