File photo: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
File photo: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Strict conditions for those recovered from Covid-19 that return to work

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Jun 10, 2020

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PRETORIA – South Africa’s national department of employment and labour on Wednesday said it noted numerous media reports indicating that Covid-19 patients were no longer required to test negative before resuming work. 

The department's chief inspector for health and safety, Tibor Szana, said such reports were untrue. 

“In terms on the new directions, if a worker has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and isolated in accordance with the department of health guidelines, an employer may only allow a worker to return on conditions that the worker has completed the mandatory 14 days of self-isolation,” said Szana. 

Other conditions are that the affected employee has to have undergone a medical evaluation confirming fitness to work, if the worker had moderate or severe illness in relation to the virus.

Szana said it was vital for the employer to ensure that personal hygiene, wearing of masks, social distancing, and cough etiquette - amongst other known best practices - were strictly adhered to by the worker. The employer would also have to closely monitor the worker for symptoms, upon his or her return to work. 

He said in this instance, a worker would be required to wear a surgical mask for at least 21 days from the date of the diagnosis. This would be in the best interests of the worker and his or her colleagues. 

The new directive also stated that workers that had been in contact with another worker in the workplace that had been diagnosed with Covid-19, must have his or her exposure to others assessed by the employer. This was to be done in accordance with the department of health’s guidelines to ascertain whether the exposure was high or low risk. 

“If there is low risk exposure, the employer may permit the worker to continue working using a cloth mask complying with standard precautions, and the workers symptoms must be monitored for 14 days from the first contact,” said Szana. 

He pointed out that if there was high risk exposure, the worker must remain in quarantine for 14 days, and the employer of that worker must place the worker on sick leave. 

Employees needing further clarity on the interpretation of the department of employment and labour directive were encouraged to speak to the chief inspector on 082 883 5737. 

African News Agency

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