Fourth Tygerberg Hospital staff member succumbs to Covid-19, says union

Published Jun 1, 2020


Cape Town - A fourth Tygerberg Hospital staff member has died of Covid-19, said a health workers union, which is appealing to the Western Cape health department for help.

Emilia Moloi, provincial secretary for the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), said a porter died after contracting Covid-19 two weeks ago. The union was informed of the death late last week.

“He was on duty two weeks ago and he fell sick at work. He tested positive for Covid-19. He was admitted to the Mitchells Plain hospital and did not return to work,” said Moloi.

“This was the fourth death that we had at Tygerberg. It was first a nurse and then it was a senior manager. And also there was a household aid. All of this was in a short space of time.”

Moloi works as a nurse at Tygerberg, which is one of the province’s largest hospitals with at least 4 500 staff.

“Personal protective equipment has been a problem since day one. I went to a private hospital and people are screened at the entrances there. Up until May 12, no persons entering Tygerberg were screened.

“Some days staff don’t have personal protective equipment. We have nightmares. We don’t know when we come to work whether we will contract the virus and take it back home to our families,” she said.

“We are taking a risk with our lives every day. When you hear someone has died, you ask yourself who the next person will be.

“There’s a lot of fear and anxiety because you don’t know what will happen next.”

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said it was “understandable that staff would have anxiety”.

“Big hospitals will be affected. Tygerberg was the first hospital that declared we had imported (Covid-19) cases coming from the (Cape Town International) airport,” said Mbombo.

“It is understandable that the issue of exposure would be high. We assess the exposure and follow international guidelines on personal protective equipment. We will have hiccups and we are working with staff.”

The Western Cape government believes Covid-19 will peak at the start of July.

It said in a statement that at least 7 800 beds would be needed at this time. It has also been forecast that there could be up to 9 300 Covid-19-related deaths in the province.

Cape Argus

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