Medical professor slams mischief makers over fake Steve Biko hospital message

A medical professor whose personal appeal to his family messaging group in March 2020 has been doctored and is being used to spread misinformation about the current situation at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane, says those behind the fake message are “being mischevious”.

“They took an edited message I wrote to a family group last year in March, at the beginning of the pandemic and started re-circulating it.

“We now know a lot about Covid-19 and that message is outdated. Please refrain from forwarding it,” Professor Patrick Lekgwara wrote on his Facebook page this week.

This comes after Lekgwara’s personal message was used to spread misinformation by attributing it as a message from a “HOD of the Steve Biko Academic Hospital”.

Lekgwara, who is based at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, said he has never been employed at the hospital.

Steve Biko hospital was thrust into the headlines this week after images emerged showing the poor state of the facility at a time when the country is in the grips of the second wave of Covid-19.

The fake message gives Lekgwara the title of HOD at Steve Biko hospital.

Lekgwara further reiterated that although facilities were overwhelmed, now was “not the time to panic”.

“All our hospitals are in a difficult time. Steve Biko and DGMAH [George Mukhari Academic Hospital] are tertiary hospitals and because of the increasing numbers, they will be overwhelmed. However, they have plans on how to handle the increasing numbers.

“It’s not the time to panic. As I saw on the news, Steve Biko Academic Hospital is doing the best they can. I am not employed there, so I can’t comment much,” he told a local publication on Monday.

The country reported a higher number of new cases and deaths during the second wave.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, in an address on Monday evening, noted that since New Year’s Day, South Africa recorded “nearly 190 000 new Covid-19 infections and more than 4 600 Covid-19 deaths so far this year”.

Steve Biko Academic Hospital

A local publication reported on Monday that the Steve Biko hospital, a specialist facility, was under great pressure.

According to the Gauteng health department, the hospital was seeing an increased number of patients [who] are sicker and require critical care, with some arriving in groups and putting serious pressure on the facility.

“Some of the patients the hospital is receiving come from private facilities because of lack of space, while others are self-referred from other provinces, such as North West, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo,” the department said in a statement.

The department issued the statement following a series of images, shared on social media, which showed patients being treated in tents in a roofed structure at the hospital’s Emergency Unit entrance, a local publication reported.

As of Monday, 11 January – the country recorded 15 046 new cases, bringing the cumulative total of Covid-19 cases to 1 246 643 and a further 416 deaths, bringing the total Covid-19 deaths to 33 579.

-The Citizen

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