Frontline health workers ‘carry the Covid-19 burden’
A Mahikeng doctor tests positive for Covid-19, as Health Minister Zweli Mkhize states that the number of healthcare workers infected with Covid-19 is above 500 people.
The North West health department confirms that a 47–year-old doctor who was practising at Mahikeng Provincial Hospital tested positive for Covid-19. The clinician also worked at Victoria Private Hospital, and at a private practice. Twelve healthcare workers from the province have already tested positive for the virus, with six coming from the private sector and six from public hospitals and clinics.
At a media briefing, North West Health MEC, Madoda Sambatha, says that the department will be embarking on a process of contact screening and decontamination of affected units.
“In the Ngaka Modiri Molema District, we can confirm that indeed one of our doctors at Mahikeng Provincial Hospital has tested positive for Covid-19. The doctor is a 47–year-old male clinician […] The position of the department is that the doctor in question and other employees in contact used appropriate personal protective equipment [and] it is for these
reasons that the unit will not be closed as the risk level is low for contamination following adherence to safety measures,” Sambatha explains.
At Mahikeng Provincial Hospital the doctor was in contact with 12 doctors, 29 nurses and 70 patients. Whilst working at the Victoria Private Hospital, 22 staff members, two doctors and 21 patients interacted with him. He also saw 104 patients at his private surgery. Affected wards and his private surgery have been closed and decontaminated.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) in North West says government must do more to protect workers against possible infection, as “understaffing in the healthcare sector” has always been an issue that puts more strain on the healthcare system.
“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,” says provincial spokesperson Patrick Makhafane in a statement.
He also says that workers should not report for duty if they feel their lives are in danger, emphasising that “reckless endangerment” of members won’t be allowed by the trade union.
“In this regard NEHAWU advises workers not to report for duty if they feel that their lives are in danger. Moreover, we call on the Department of Employment and Labour to conduct regular inspections in all healthcare facilities in the province to ascertain the levels of compliance and enforce the protection of workers.”
Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, says over 500 health workers in the country have tested positive for Covid-19. He expressed concern about this figure, while delivering his speech to commemorate International Nurses Day at the King Edward Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Regrettably, our war against the Covid-19 pandemic has cost us lives of our health workers. On behalf of my department, I would like to dedicate this day to all our nurses, especially those nurses who have lost their lives to the pandemic. Their contribution to the fight against the pandemic is immeasurable. May their families and loved ones find strength in shared memories and may their souls rest in internal peace.”
Mkhize thanked all health workers for their commitment in fighting the pandemic, saying they “carry the burden of saving lives during our weakest moments in our journey on earth.”
He continued: “We salute you for the professionalism with which you execute your
nursing art and provide the backbone of our health services. We salute you for your caring heart and the warm smile that eases the pain and heals the suffering.”
In 2019, the World Health Organisation designated 2020 as the Year of the Nurse and Midwife in honour of the 200th birth anniversary of renowned nurse Florence Nightingale. – Health-e News