Eastern Cape's Nelson Mandela Bay has only 2 ambulances for pandemic patients

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Nelson Mandela Bay has only two state ambulances for the transport of COVID-19 patients – one is operating in Port Elizabeth and the other in Uitenhage, reports Daily Maverick.

The metro is one of the provincial hotspots for the outbreak of coronavirus infections with 10,442 patients having tested positive, 5,424 recoveries and 136 deaths.

Eastern Cape Health Department spokesperson Siyanda Manana confirmed that there were only 12 vehicles on the road. He said that only one ambulance in Port Elizabeth was conveying COVID-19 patients and one in Uitenhage, but that two patient transport vehicles were added this week. Manana said 19 officials at Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were sick with COVID-19.

The deputy chair of the Treatment Action Campaign in the province, Thembisile Nogampula, said the shortage of ambulances in the metro was disastrous. “We have been crying for many years over ambulances,” he said. “COVID-19 has exposed the Department of Health in so many ways.”

Democratic Alliance provincial spokesperson for health Jane Cowley said the desperate shortage of functional ambulances in the province remains a huge problem – despite the issue repeatedly being raised at the health portfolio committee.

Ntsiki Mpulo from the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition said it had become very difficult to get information on the availability of ambulances. She said their members are told that managers are hesitant to send out ambulances as they often end up having nowhere to take the patient because many hospitals are turning patients away.

Full Daily Maverick report

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