Picture: IANS
Picture: IANS

Nehawu concerned about health workers' exposure to Covid-19

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Apr 15, 2020

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Johannesburg - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) has expressed concerns about the growing number of frontline workers contracting coronavirus in the private healthcare sector.

This comes amid a growing number of private hospitals where medical staff have contracted the virus, leading to the partial closure of some of the affected hospitals.

Mediclinic Morningside in Sandton has become the latest private hospital to introduce strict access measures after 12 of its staff members tested positive for the respiratory virus.

On Tuesday, Netcare Kingsway Hospital in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban, stopped admitting new patients and closed some of its sections after a patient and staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, which has infected 2415 and killed 27 people in the country.

Last week, 48 of the 66 people who tested positive for Covid-19 at the St Augustine Hospital in Durban were healthcare workers.

In a statement, Nehawu general-secretary Zola Saphetha said the union was gravely concerned by the infections, adding that private healthcare was becoming the “weakest link in the fight against Covid-19”.

“The escalation of the number of workers who are recklessly exposed to the virus is a serious cause for concern. As Nehawu, we want to make it unequivocally clear that failure to protect workers is tantamount to murder,” Saphetha said.

Saphetha lamented that while the whole country was up in arms trying to fight the virus, the private healthcare sector had dropped the ball leading to the infection of workers.

 “The national union finds it extremely unacceptable that the management of these hospitals are so reckless up to the point of losing this large number of workers while we are struggling with understaffing. Loss of frontline workers and closure of hospitals limits the number of beds needed to treat patients and the adequate number of workers needed for healthcare facilities to function,” he said.

He maintained that the union would engage the Department of Employment and Labour on the compliance inspection with the Occupational Health and Safety Act by private healthcare providers especially the affected hospitals.

“Those found to be in the wrong must face the full might of the law. In our next meeting with the Minister of Health as part of our on-going engagements on the fight against Covid-19 we will raise sharply the issue of private healthcare providers and their recklessness,” Saphetha said.

IOL

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the government's 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or go to SA Coronavirus for more information.

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