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The Eastern Cape health system is reeling as health workers fearing for their own safety refuse to treat Covid-19 patients, putting added pressure on state and private hospitals scrambling to meet requirements ahead of an expected spike in coronavirus cases. On Friday, Frere Hospital in East London was ordered to immediately shut down over concerns that measures for stopping Covid-19 — including access control — were inadequate, and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) believes this situation is only the “tip of the iceberg”. The health crisis has been brought into focus by the death of five health workers in the province, including the wife of Amathole district municipality mayor Khanyile Maneli, a nurse at Victoria Hospital in Alice, which has created a culture of fear among their colleagues, many of whom have tested positive for the virus themselves.

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