14% of KZN COVID-19 cases can be traced to St Augustine’s Hospital - report

The report by a University of KwaZulu-Natal-led research team was made public on Wednesday following an investigation at the facility.

Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban. Picture: Google maps.

DURBAN - A new report shows that 14% of all COVID-19 cases in KwaZulu-Natal can be traced to the coronavirus outbreak at Netcare’s St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban.

The report by a University of KwaZulu-Natal-led research team was made public on Wednesday following an investigation at the facility.

The report stated that at least 119 people were infected with the virus at the facility between 9 March and 30 April this year.

“Overall, we estimate that the hospital outbreak and its spread to these other institutions accounted for about 14% of COVID-19 cases in KwaZulu‐Natal reported up to 30 April. This highlights the risk that outbreaks like this become what we call ‘amplifiers’ of transmission, that is they fuel transmission in the wider community”, one of the researchers, Professor Tulio de Oliveira, said.

The investigation found that 80 Netcare staff members and 39 patients tested positive for COVID-19 at St Augustine’s Hospital. Fifteen of the 39 patients died.

The researchers, which also included Dr Richard Lessells and Professor Yunus Moosa, said that the outbreak could be traced to a patient who was assessed for COVID-19 in early March.

The virus was then transmitted to another patient who had been admitted for a stroke.

"The most plausible explanation for the outbreak is that there was a single introduction of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) to the hospital in early March, most likely through transmission from a patient being assessed for COVID-19 in the emergency department to another patient being admitted at the same time with a suspected stroke," the report stated.

The initial spread of the virus was not detected at first because the patient who was suspected to have introduced the virus into the facility did not display any major symptoms related to COVID-19.

"She [the patient] did not have any of the typical risk factors and only presented with a single episode of fever without cough or other respiratory symptoms. By the time she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and the hospital began responding to the outbreak, several other patients and healthcare workers had already been infected."

It was recommended that hospitals immediately establish different zones for COVID-19 patients, those suspected to have the virus and those who were negative.

"The COVID‐19 epidemic is an unprecedented challenge for the health system and the community in South Africa. We hope that lessons learned from this nosocomial outbreak can be used to highlight areas that can be strengthened across the private and public health system, so as to prevent nosocomial outbreaks becoming a major amplifier of COVID‐19 transmission,” Lessells said.

_Read the full report below: _

Media Statement by Ukzn Team by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

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