Panic as staff is checked

Sipho Masombuka and Pertunia Ratsatsi

Panicky staff at the Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, who had been in contact with an elderly female patient who died on Saturday morning, are being closely monitored for possible signs of a highly infectious disease that has already claimed four lives in Johannesburg.

The patient was admitted on Friday afternoon as a transfer from the Mamelodi Hospital and died just after midnight.

The panic increased when casualty ward staff allegedly told a porter that preliminary tests pointed to a deadly and highly infectious disease.

A porter who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity said she was even more alarmed when she heard a report on the radio yesterday about three people who had succumbed to the disease.

"Our temperatures and blood pressures were checked on Saturday morning but we were not told what was going on," the porter said.

"I started getting worried when I heard about a possible outbreak of the infectious disease because I am the one who wheeled the patient from the ambulance to the casualty ward."

Kalafong Hospital chief executive officer Trevor Fisher said everybody who had been in contact with the patient was being closely monitored as a precautionary measure.