Medical association rejects call to enforce hospital quarantine for Covid-19 patients

The South African Medical Association is against the government's call to put patients who cant self-isolate under mandatory isolation in hospitals.
The South African Medical Association is against the government's call to put patients who cant self-isolate under mandatory isolation in hospitals.
Image: 123RF/Dario Lo Presti

The South African Medical Association (Sama) in the Western Cape has rejected a government call to put people who have tested positive for Covid-19 under quarantine in field hospitals.

On Saturday, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that everyone in the Western Cape who tested positive for Covid-19 would be confined to a hospital if doctors are not satisfied the person can self-isolate properly.

“The suggested approach is illogical, given that 50%-80% of the population infected with SARS-CoV-2 are either asymptomatic (potentially infectious to others), pre-symptomatic and hence already infectious, or have mild Covid-19, which does not require hospitalisation.

“Self-isolation at their homes is advised and is completely appropriate. If this is not possible for social, practical or other legitimate reasons, alternatives are then required,” Sama said in a statement.

The organisation is of the opinion that hospital admissions should never be the default, even if such hospitals are to be the so-called field hospitals. “Our hospital resource needs to be judiciously utilised and not used as an extended lockdown facility for infected patients.

“The Western Cape’s hospitals are already under increasing strain as a result of unacceptably slow turnaround times for the SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test, which if not addressed threatens to destroy patient flow and block the system. Pouring patients into the hospitals who do not require admission will only compound this problem. Those who clinically warrant admission to hospital, must have access,” Sama said.


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