City spokesperson Priya Reddy File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
City spokesperson Priya Reddy File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

City of Cape Town acquiring stand-in staff as Mfuleni nurses refuse to work

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published May 5, 2020

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Cape Town – As Khayelitsha paramedics remain on strike after their union failed to reach an agreement with the provincial health department over the supply of personal protective equipment (PPEs), nurses at the Dr Ivan Toms Clinic in Mfuleni refused to work yesterday after their colleague tested positive for Covid-19.

SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) secretary Xolani Diniso said the union received a report on Sunday that the clinic’s clerk had tested positive and that operations continued as normal.

“This morning (yesterday) staff heard about the case and refused to work although management was telling them to. We encouraged the staff to continue to refuse to work and go home, because management was not only risking their lives but that of the community. 

"We are unhappy about the manner in which the situation has been handled,” said Diniso.

The City’s spokesperson Priya Reddy said the clinic was deep-cleaned on Sunday as per health and safety protocols.

“The majority of the staff claimed to have been in close contact with this staff member and have been tested and sent home to quarantine until the results become available.

“Two doctors were not tested as they had not had close contact with the case. They have continued to work, together with two cleaners who had had low exposure. 

"City Health is in the process of acquiring stand-in staff to provide services at the facility until further notice. The City’s protocol dictates that staff members should return to work as soon it is safe to do so,” Reddy said.

The 30 paramedics from the Khayelitsha District Hospital yesterday continued their strike from the weekend over the failure to reach agreement on PPE.

National Education Health and Allied Workers Union secretary Eric Kweleta said: “Discussions with the department didn’t go well. They still refused our demand for A40 (overalls), that will ensure our members safety. 

"They rather keep it in their storeroom. They told us they will only avail them to paramedics when they are dispatched to a Covid-19 case. 

"Our argument is that in some cases, they will respond to a call of someone sick, but won’t know whether they have the virus. In another district two paramedics tested positive, so we can’t encourage our members to go back to work. We will try again to resolve this.”

Emergency Medical Services spokesperson Deanna Bessick said paramedics were issued with the correct PPE as per their departmental guidelines.

Paramedics from the Winelands and Helderberg had to be called in on Saturday morning to assist and serve the Khayelitsha precinct when the paramedics downed tools.

Cape Times

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