Union and nurses demand staff be isolated while awaiting Covid-19 test results

Health department appeals to Eastern Cape clinic staff to return to work

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Nursing staff at Motherwell NU2 clinic stand outside the main gate. The clinic was closed on Tuesday after staff members tested positive for Covid-19. Photo: Joseph Chirume

On Tuesday and Wednesday some nursing staff at NU2 clinic in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, refused to work after they heard that three of their colleagues had tested positive for Covid-19.

Mzikazi Nkata, shop steward for the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers Union, said the government should isolate people suspected of having the virus while they are waiting for their test results.

“The first results came last week and some nurses were found positive. Then the last results came this week and nurses are calling for the department to test all staff again. We want to avoid what happened at Zwide clinic when more than a dozen of our members ended up catching the virus because the infected colleagues continued to report for duty while waiting for the results.”

“Our members at this clinic still face the same problem as other health institutions in the province. They don’t have personal protective equipment. They make their own sanitisers and do not have aprons and other protective clothing. We demand these before the clinic starts operating.”

“Officials of the Department of Health were here yesterday taking photos of the closed clinic and threatening workers with disciplinary action if they don’t go back to work,” said Nkata.

Nkata said the clinic has 21 staff including one intern nurse.

A couple of kilometres away from the NU2 clinic, nurses at Empilweni TB hospital in New Brighton, were protesting after they heard that a member of the kitchen staff had tested positive for Covid-19.

A spokesperson for the nurses, who refused to be named for fear of victimisation, said the staff member had been sharing transport with other workers.

Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo urged nurses to go back to work. “I appeal to everyone, including our health professionals who are at the front of this war against coronavirus pandemic, not to divert their attention.”

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TOPICS:  Covid-19 Health Unions

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