Nurses afraid of Covid-19 accused of refusing to help sick man

Image: Tyler Olson/

Nurses at Cofimvaba Hospital have been accused of refusing to attend to a sick man in fear of catching the coronavirus.

Now the man's angry family wants the hospital to issue a formal apology over the incident.

Busisiwe Ntsaluba told DispatchLIVE on Wednesday that her uncle, Lungisa Qinisile, 60, had been admitted to the hospital on Saturday. Qinisile suffers from a chronic condition.

When she, her mother and her uncle's wife visited him at the hospital, they were shocked to find six to seven nurses sitting in a room wearing protective masks.

But when they wanted to know which ward Qinisile had been admitted to, they did not help them.

Instead they pointed to a staff member who told them which ward to go to.

“When we got to the ward, we saw a patient in one of the beds sleeping across the middle of the bed with his feet dangling (over the end),” Ntsaluba said.

“We recognised him as my uncle. He was in dirty hospital pyjamas that looked like they had not been washed for days. His mouth was covered in dried vomit. He was shaking as if he was cold.”

She said they could not move him but adjusted his position in the bed.

Ntsaluba said a nurse who told them she was the sister in charge said the nurses they had encountered earlier were scared to contract Covid-19 as they suspected her uncle had it.

“When I asked whether other patients had been tested for the virus she said no.”

Ntsaluba said eventually the nurse and a doctor managed to assist in washing Qinisile and putting him in bed properly.

“We were shocked by the whole thing with the nurses. My mother cried. We want the hospital to apologise to the family,” she said.

Provincial health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo advised the family to lodge a complaint with the office of the hospital's CEO for a proper investigation.

“We take allegations of this nature very seriously,” he said.

The incident is not the first of this nature involving nurses at an Eastern Cape health facility.

A DA councillor in the Port St Johns municipality, Derrick Madini, told the Dispatch earlier this month his sick niece had been turned away by nurses at Thombo clinic due to Covid-19 fears.