KZN hospital block burnt to ground because of its COVID-19 use

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A security guard has been injured and a R6m hospital building in northern KwaZulu-Natal burnt to the ground, allegedly to protest the hospital being used as a COVID-19 facility. The Times reports that the KZN Health Department said it was shocked at the torching of a new centre at the Catherine Booth Hospital, at Amatikulu, near Eshowe. “It is believed that the torching of this brand-new centre – which was also burnt down three years ago – is linked to disquiet among sections of the community over the conversion of a section of the hospital into a COVID-19 treatment facility,” said the department.

The centre, which was used as an admin block, had recently been rebuilt after it was torched in 2017. “The incident, which also saw shots being fired, took place between midnight and 1am, and left a security guard with a facial injury,” said the department.

Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said that she was considering closing the hospital which has 127 beds and 39 patients. Three of them are in isolation and receiving treatment for COVID-19, while two are in quarantine, awaiting their results. “We are in a crisis. This is a pandemic that all of us are faced with. And the department has a responsibility to ensure that it provides all the beds that are needed, so that those who are COVID-19 positive get the assistance they need,” said Simelane-Zulu.

KZN police spokesperson Capt Nqobile Gwala said Eshowe police were investigating a case of arson and malicious damage to property. “A group of unknown people attacked the hospital in Eshowe and set alight a park home which comprises eight offices. All the equipment in the offices was burnt. The circumstances are being investigated,” said Gwala.

Full report in The Times

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