A DURBAN psychologist said workers should not engage in catastrophic thinking or react with anger when they hear a colleague has tested positive for Covid-19.(Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)
A DURBAN psychologist said workers should not engage in catastrophic thinking or react with anger when they hear a colleague has tested positive for Covid-19.(Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

Why you should not fear the worst if a co-worker tests positive for Covid-19

By Zainul Dawood Time of article published May 15, 2020

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Durban - A DURBAN psychologist said workers should not engage in catastrophic thinking or react with anger when they hear a colleague has tested positive for Covid-19.

The Daily News has been inundated with calls from employees who claim some companies were not being transparent with them, and this was putting strain on them.

Nearly 200 staff members at the Durban Solid Waste depot on the Bluff were screened after an employee tested positive. They expected their results on Sunday. Anxiety levels at the KwaDukuza Private Hospital in Stanger were also high after a doctor tested positive on Saturday. Hospital manager Ravi Manilal confirmed a doctor had tested positive and was placed in self-isolation.

“Management has decided to test all staff. There were 89 tests carried out. We are awaiting results,” Manilal said.

Counselling psychologist Kerry Frizelle said, according to the Health and Safety Act, every company had to put measures in place to reduce hazards and promote health at work.

“From what I have read, this would include screening and letting staff know they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive,” she said.

From a psychological perspective, Frizelle said it was essential that companies considered the importance of putting together protocols and steps to follow should someone test positive.

“This information should be communicated to all staff so that they know, first, that their well-being is important and, second, how a positive case will be dealt with,” she said.

Frizelle said the person’s identity did not have to be disclosed, but staff should be told they had been exposed.

“This news could be scary considering the news and images that people have been exposed to about the virus. It can lead to people becoming very ill, but there is also the possibility of being infected mildly, with minimal symptoms and a quick recovery.

“It is important for people not to engage in catastrophic thinking, that is, thinking the very worst outcome is likely. It is also likely that people might react with anger towards someone who tests postive. This can lead to trauma for the infected person. Anger is often driven by fear, and people should be encouraged to acknowledge that fear and avoid blame.

“We cannot make assumptions about how people came to be infected or their intentions. Ideally, staff should be motivated to protect themselves and each other,” Frizelle said.

Daily News

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