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Six BCM clinics close for Covid-19 clean

Frere Hospital Gateway Clinic in East London is among six clinics in the Buffalo City Metro Municipality that have closed because of staff that have tested positive for Covid-19.
Frere Hospital Gateway Clinic in East London is among six clinics in the Buffalo City Metro Municipality that have closed because of staff that have tested positive for Covid-19.

Six clinics in Buffalo City Metro have been shut down as staff members test positive for Covid-19.

Eastern Cape health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo confirmed on Thursday that Mncotsho, Berlin, Ilitha, Ndevana, Quigney, and Frere Gateway clinics had all been temporarily closed. He said the department could not afford to have health centres shutting down during the pandemic, which has already killed over 2,000 people in SA.

“The national department [of health] is working on new regulations to deal with these spontaneous closures of healthcare facilities and the decontamination process. But we can't afford to close hospitals and clinics,” said Kupelo.  

A nurse from Ndevana clinic, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said they were still waiting on their manager to give them an update on when they could return to work.

She said all staff members at the clinic who had contact with the Covid-positive nurse had been tested on Tuesday but they were still waiting for their results.

“We were told not to come in this week because there was a staff member that was confirmed to have coronavirus,” said the nurse.

The mother of a seven-week-old baby from Biko village in Reeston, who usually visits Free Gateway Clinic, said the closure of the clinic was an inconvenience. The woman did not want her name published. 

“I was so disappointed to get there and find the gates closed. It costs money to travel and I'm unemployed. I had to take another taxi to town [East London CBD] because my baby needed to be vaccinated and I was worried he might get sick if he doesn't get them.”

She said many unemployed mothers depended on government healthcare facilities such as mobile and other clinics for medical assistance.

“In Reeston we don't have a clinic. The only help we get  is from a mobile clinic, which is not guaranteed. It might come or might not. So we have to travel to Gateway Clinic just to ensure that our kids get medical attention.

“Another clinic close to us is Empilweni [Gompo Health Care]  but they are also closed. I wish the government would get more mobile clinics for our areas. At least we would not worry about anything,” she said.  

ANC ward 45 councillor Thozamile Norexe said his office was busy trying to secure mobile clinics for Ilitha and Berlin areas.

“The sister in charge of Ilitha clinic told me on Monday that they were closing the clinic for 14 days to decontaminate the building because  a staff member tested positive,” said Norexe.

“That clinic services a lot of people and we can't afford not have a clinic, so we have to meet with the municipality and try to get mobile clinics to come in and assist.

“People must not panic. We will get mobile clinics for them soon, but I can't say when.”

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