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First East London Covid-19 death at Frere Hospital

COVID-19 South Africa

Posted Apr 17, 2020
Article Type: COVID-19
City: East London
Credit: Ray Hartle

East London has recorded its first death from Covid-19 – an unidentified elderly patient who died at Frere Hospital on Saturday. 


Provincial health MEC Sindiswa Gomba is believed to have given a radio interview on Thursday morning confirming the death.

The death did not form part of health minister Zweli Mkhize’s update on the countrywide infections and deaths as at midnight on Tuesday and Eastern Cape health department spokespersons have consistently refused to confirm the death.

However, three independent sources confirmed to DispatchLIVE on Wednesday that the patient had died at East London’s Frere Hospital from Covid-19, with one source stating: “It helps nobody to duck and dive.”

DispatchLIVE has held back 24 hours on publishing this information until official confirmation was received. That still has not been received, but Gomba’s spokesperson Judy Ngoloyi has confirmed she provided an audio interview on Thursday morning.

Ngoloyi did not respond to repeated questions of whether Gomba confirmed the death during the interview.

Ngoloyi offered to send DispatchLIVE an audio clip of the interview but it was not received at the time of publication.

It is understood the elderly woman was admitted to the hospital last week and initially was diagnosed with an underlying illness. It is not clear if the woman was tested before or after she died, but sources confirmed that the test results were positive.

On Wednesday, Frere staff who may have been exposed to the patient were corralled for most of the day as senior managers held discussions with union leaders on issues that included whether staff could self-isolate at home while they waited for test results or continue to work.

Officials also had concerns about the absence of personal protective equipment for staff.

Staff were warned against disclosing any information about the death or the subsequent actions within the hospital.

The metro has seen a huge spike in Covid-19 infections following a cluster outbreak within the West Bank prison women’s section. It is not clear how the virus entered the prison.

DispatchLIVE has challenged the provincial health department on its failure to properly announce the death to the public through a simultaneous release to all media.


(Excluding for the Headline, this article ("story") has not been edited by MiBiz News and is published from a web feed or sourced from the Internet.)


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