Johannesburg – The National Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has called on the government to hire more hospital staff and increase bed capacity in anticipation of a third wave of the deadly Covid-19 virus.
The union has been at the forefront of holding government to account over its handling of the pandemic.
Its secretary-general, Zola Saphetha, made the call for more health-care staff to be appointed following the announcement that the country would move to level 2 lockdown.
“Our call to government has been centred on the procurement of more oxygen points, ventilators, hospital beds and the hiring of more healthcare workers to deal with the scourge of under-staffing,” Saphetha said.
He said President Cyril Ramaphosa had failed to mention the target of vaccinating 1.25 million front-line workers in the first phase of vaccinations had not been reached.
“As Nehawu, we are still very concerned that the second phase started without the conclusion of the first phase. Our concern is based on the fact that the vaccination of front-line workers was very slow and missed its target of vaccinating 1.25 million front-line workers; instead at the start of phase two only a mere 479 768 workers were vaccinated,” Saphetha said.
He said the union was pleased the government was also looking to the East for solutions, and called on government to produce vaccines locally for a speedy roll-out.
“We commend the effort by the South African government to build domestic vaccine productive capacity and hope that more countries will continue to call for the waiver of the relevant clauses of the World Trade Organization agreement on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or Trips.
“Furthermore, we welcome the testing of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and the Russian-produced Sputnik vaccine by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, to use in the country. We also call on our government to look into Cuban vaccines and other medical supplies as well.”
The union warned against Covid19 fatigue and urged communities to work with the government by following regulations to ensure the safety of all.
“We call on all our people not to be complacent and continue to practise non-pharmaceutical interventions to protect themselves and loved ones.”