Patients in the central corridor of the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital. Picture: DANIEL BORN/THE TIMES
Patients in the central corridor of the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital. Picture: DANIEL BORN/THE TIMES

A leaked video, which has been heavily blurred to protect patient identities, shows a patient suspected of being infected with Covid-19 refusing to wait at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital for results.

In the footage, the patient screams at health workers and takes off her mask to speak on the phone. The incident occurred on Sunday night and led to police being called, after which she was forced to stay at the hospital.

This is yet another incident, in a disturbingly long list, of either suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients refusing to comply with rules implemented to stem the surge of a virus that, at last count, numbered 554 confirmed cases in South Africa. It follows examples last week in which a family, two members of which had tested positive for Covid-19, refused to stay at the hospital and a court order had to be obtained to ensure their quarantine.

In this footage from Charlotte Maxeke, the patient in question was part of a family of three, one member of which was known to have Covid-19 as he’d worked for a wealthy Sandton family from whom he is understood to have contracted it.

Having been told to bring his family to be tested, they travelled by taxi to the academic hospital in Parktown. All of them were told to wait at the hospital for results and then, if positive, would have been required to be quarantined — particularly as travelling home by taxi would place other passengers at risk. 

However, at one point, the woman, who is resisting staying at the hospital, refuses to wear a mask. This is despite the fact that the World Health Organisation says that all patients, suspected patients, and health workers must wear masks to prevent the spread of disease. 

One doctor at the hospital, clearly frustrated, says: “She won’t wear her mask. I have been dealing with this all day”. Yet the lady continues to chat on the phone and screams at hospital staff, while the police, who seem unsure what to do, are pictured nearby wearing face masks. However, refusing quarantine for Covid-19 is now illegal under the new regulations gazetted last week under the disaster management act  

Not only does this footage illustrate how difficult it is for doctors and healthcare workers to deal with truculent patients, but it also illustrates how, in the face of many examples of patients behaving selfishly, even president Cyril Ramaphosa’s lockdown may fail to halt the spread of the disease.

In particular, healthcare workers who spoke to the FM have reiterated how worried they are about Covid-19 spreading to the townships, where many people are forced to share crowded living quarters and travel in taxis. “Without co-operation, lockdown is a waste of time,” said one doctor, who spoke to the FM under the condition of anonymity. He added that by refusing to wear a mask, she poses a “significant” risk to the safety of healthcare workers.

In Italy,  over 2000 doctors and nurses and hospital staff have become infected with Covid-19. This is a risk to the healthcare infrastructure because, if too many doctors and nurses have to stay home sick, it will mean overcrowded state hospitals will be even more understaffed.

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