South Africa: WhatsApp Error Leads to Oxygen Trouble for Eastern Cape Department of Health

A misread Whatsapp message has landed the acting superintendent-general of the Eastern Cape Department of Health, Dr Sibongile Zungu, in hot water after she told Parliament last week that the provincial treasury was looking for other sources of medical oxygen because of a letter sent to them by Afrox. The letter was posted on the Department of Health’s oxygen WhatsApp group by Afrox but only referred to industrial clients. Zungu said on Monday she had made a mistake and did not intend to mislead parliament.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health has admitted that their acting superintendent-general has misread a letter posted on a medical oxygen WhatsApp group, leading to a mistaken instruction to the provincial treasury to look for other manufacturers to augment supply.

The sole medical oxygen manufacturer for the province, Afrox, through its spokesperson Nolundi Rawana, insisted that there was no shortage of medical-grade oxygen in South Africa. However, Rawana said industrial customers were informed that because of a rapid increase in the demand for medical oxygen there was a need to convert industrial oxygen bulk tankers and cylinders to rapidly expand delivery logistics of medical-grade product.

As a result, the company’s industrial clients were sent a…

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