Nursing union demands removal of COVID tents after fire at Steve Biko Hospital

No patients or staff were harmed in yesterday’s blaze, however, 18 patients and a body had to be evacuated as a precaution.

FILE: A professional healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) treats a patient in a tent dedicated to the treatment of possible COVID-19 coronavirus patients, while another cleans the ward at the Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria on 10 July 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The Young Nurses Indaba is demanding the removal of temporary structures used as contingency measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic at health facilities after a tent at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane caught fire.

No patients or staff were harmed in Monday’s blaze, however, 18 patients and a body had to be evacuated as a precaution.

The nursing union has applauded the hospital staff who managed to put out the fire before it spread to the rest of the facility.

However, the union’s Lerato Mthunzi said that the tents were now hazardous and cautioned that another fire incident was likely.

“We are warning that these will be seen that are spreading like wildfire to other facilities, because these tents are not only inhabitable and not providing the patients with dignity but are downright dangerous.”

Mthunzi said that the department should prioritise the so-called fever tents for patients under COVID-19 investigation with permanent structures.

“We demand that the Department of Health stop cutting corners, we are two years and over into this pandemic. By now we should have units in each and every facility even in our clinics,” Mthunzi said.

The Gauteng Health Department is awaiting an incident report into the fire while a police investigation is under way.