oa Wits Journal of Clinical Medicine - COVID-19 preparedness in a neonatal unit at a tertiary hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa

Volume 2 Number Si1
  • ISSN : 2618-0189
  • E-ISSN: 2618-0197



Background: The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to South Africa and poses an infection risk in pregnant women and their newborns, as well as health-care workers and other patients.

Objective: To discuss the implementation of international and local recommendations, and any additional actions undertaken at our Neonatal Unit in order to prepare for COVID-19.

Discussion: Standard precautions in order to prepare a facility and its personnel to safely care for COVID-19 patients as outlined by the World Health Organization procedures have been implemented. Further actions undertaken in our Neonatal Unit included the creation of standard operating procedures, increased communication between neonatal and obstetric teams, limiting staff exposure, the creation of disposable resuscitation boxes to attend deliveries, reallocation of a triage area in the high care ward to an isolation area for sick newborns of suspected or confirmed maternal COVID-19 cases, staff training on personal protective equipment procedures and initiation of an online resources portal for neonatal staff.

Conclusion: A rational approach to suspected cases and infection control in-line with local and international guidelines as well as ongoing education should diminish anxiety amongst health-care professionals and provide the best possible care to patients. South Africa is a low-to-middle income country, and the lack of resources available means we cannot increase our capacity, staffing numbers or available equipment. Yet, we must be as prepared, adaptable and efficient as possible to maximize the resources and equipment we have available to us.

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