Sixteen of the 19 Tuberculosis patients, who left the Jose Pearson TB Hospital in the Port Elizabeth without permission over the weekend, are back in hospital, the Eastern Cape Department of Health said on Wednesday.
Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the search for the remaining three TB patients was underway.
"The department continues to search for the remaining three. The other 16 were collected from their homes and are back in hospital," said Kupelo.
He said the family members of the patients would be screened to determine whether they were at risk.
"This incident was prompted by negligence by a security guard at the hospital who allegedly allowed one TB patient to leave. The others then got angry and fought their way out," said Kupelo.
He said the department had embarked on an intervention plan to stop TB patients from absconding.
Sixteen of the patients have multi drug-resistant (MDR) TB and three have the virulent extreme drug-resistant (XDR) TB.
Community members are requested to call the Health Department's toll free number: 080 0032 364 - should they know the whereabouts of the missing TB patients. – (Sapa)