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Roving health workers to be deployed to deal with shortfall due to Covid-19, says KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane

KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane has said that the department has a pool of health workers they can deploy to assist at facilities where there have been Covid-19 cases.

Roving health workers to be deployed to deal with shortfall due to Covid-19, says KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane. Picture: Supplied.

Published Dec 22, 2021

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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane has said that the department has a pool of health workers they can deploy to assist at facilities where there have been Covid-19 cases.

Speaking during a media briefing yesterday, Simelane said since the fourth wave started, there had been Covid-19 cases among health workers.

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However, she said the majority of those who tested positive did not have severe symptoms.

“But that does not change the fact that they still have to be in isolation and therefore they can’t be at their work stations.”

Simelane said to deal with this, the department will have teams who can be deployed to assist those facilities that need more staff.

“We will have teams roving around, particularly for small facilities like clinics where we often don’t have a big amount of health workers.”

She said the same would be done for the hospitals.

“Each district will have a pool of health workers that can be deployed utilising the Covid-19 contract, so where there are shortages we will be able to put in health workers.”

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Simelane also said the department was concerned about the decline in

Covid-19 vaccinations.

She said KZN had moved from around 20 000 vaccinations per week to less than 10 000.

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“So far, our province has vaccinated 2.735 million people, while we still have a further 4.484 million people to vaccinate.

“The 12–17, and 18–34 age groups are where we’ve registered the lowest rates of vaccination, at 2.9% and 23%, respectively. And yet, these are the groups that make up quite a big proportion of our target population,” she said. The MEC encouraged those who have flu-like symptoms to get tested and urged all those who have not been vaccinated to come forward and get the jab.

Professor Mosa Moshabela, the deputy vice-chancellor of research and innovation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said health-care workers getting infected since the start of the fourth wave in the province was a cause for concern.

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“Whether mild, moderate or severe, a sick health-care worker diagnosed with Covid-19 should take time off and isolate,” he said.

The length of isolation is a matter currently under discussion and is anywhere between seven and 10 days, he said.

“What we should all be concerned about is the temptation among health workers to avoid testing when their symptoms are mild, the proverbial ‘ignorance is bliss’,”said Moshabela.

“The department needs to adequately prepare for infections among health-care workers, and not make them feel as though taking time off when sick is wrong,” said Moshabela.

Public health specialist Dr Atiya Mosam said that it was good news for the health system that health-care workers were experiencing mild symptoms compared to last year and that they were not being hospitalised like in previous waves.

However, Mosam said that it was time for South Africa to start thinking broader than Covid-19.

She said it was concerning that when health-care workers contract the virus they have to take off to prevent infecting others and as a result non-Covid-19 services are impacted.

“Non-Covid services have been severely impacted over the past two years and are desperately trying to catch up,” said Mosam.

Mosam added that the country was advocating for health workers to get vaccinated because they were getting infected in large numbers.

“We’ve got low vaccination rates among health-care workers and so we are advocating for health-care workers to be vaccinated and if they’ve been vaccinated to have a booster vaccination,” she said.

THE MERCURY

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