Six pharmacists at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital have contracted Covid-19, according to the Gauteng department of health.
“The Gauteng department of health can confirm that six pharmacy staff at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19,” department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said on Thursday.
Two sources at the hospital, which has been a vital facility during the national lockdown, said it suffered the outbreak after a pharmacy intern tested positive late last week.
Other staff were urged to head to the hospital to be tested and it eventually emerged that pharmacists and assistant pharmacists also tested positive.
There are at least 50 staffers who are still awaiting results, the two sources added.
Pictures of an industrial cleaning process under way at the hospital on Monday were leaked to News24, confirming infection concerns at the facility.
Kekana also confirmed this, saying: “The process of tracing and testing close contacts has already begun, including the testing of staff, and the disinfecting of the area in the hospital where the team worked.”
The sources also told News24 that pharmacists at the inpatients’ department received prescriptions directly from Covid-19 wards.
Not enough precautions were taken to protect pharmacists, one of them alleged.
They added that prescriptions came down from the wards “and they touch them and have runners in between and bring it to the pharmacy from the wards”.
“From the time they knew about the virus, the pharmacy staff were speaking to managers about PPE (personal protective equipment) and obviously, wanted a procedure where they do not touch scripts. There was a suggestion for electronic scripts but managers were not supportive of that.”
While shopping centres were closing at the slightest hint of the virus, there was no indication of closure from the hospital management, one of the sources said.
“On the news, you hear them closing centres when there are one or two confirmed cases. This is a big hospital and no one knows about it and patients don’t know anything. It is not fair to patients.”
Another source who works closely with the pharmacy department at the hospital told News24 there was constant pressure to be at work.
“They don’t want to hear any excuses. It is so bad at the moment. We are hoping something can be done because we are losing medical professionals to this virus and management does not care.”
Responding to the allegations, Kekana said some concerns have been attended to.
“Some of the concerns raised by staff have been addressed. Staff members are either in quarantine or isolation, depending on their status.”