/ 15 December 2007

TB patients make a run for it

Eastern Cape authorities are searching for TB patients who escaped from the Jose Pearson Hospital in the Nelson Mandela municipality.

The Eastern Cape Health department said on Friday that it was believed that 29 multidrug-resistant and 20 extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis patients cut through three of the hospital’s perimeter fences to make their escape.

”We believe that small groups began leaving on Wednesday and continued yesterday,” said spokesperson Siyanda Manana.

It is believed that testing, conducted earlier in the week to determine who could and could not go home, may have sparked discontent among patients.

”We did, however, tell patients that those who tested positive and could not go home, would have their families brought to the hospital, at the department’s expense,” said Manana — adding that a Christmas party had been organised for the patients.

”There are precautionary measures that need to be taken when these patients interact with their families, so as not to spread the disease,” said Manana.

”We cannot know for sure that these precautions would be taken without the necessary supervision.”

The hospital has been in contact with the patients’ families, asking them to return their sick loved ones to the hospital.

”At the moment, we are asking for the families’ cooperation. If they are not returned, we will then have to have court orders issued, forcing them to return to hospital,” said Manana. – Sapa