“During the time that she returned to work, her patients, other staff and her own family were placed at undue risk.”
A COMMUNITY health care worker stationed at the Greenpoint Clinic has been placed under quarantine for a second time after she was instructed to return to work prior to her Covid-19 test results being made available last week.
SA Liberating Public Servants Workers Union (Salipswu) provincial organiser Thapelo Thole said on Monday that the care worker was still waiting for her test results when her self-isolation period originally expired on October 6.
“Almost 90 percent of staff at Greenpoint Clinic had been placed under quarantine following a confirmed case. During this time the clinic manager was operating the clinic. The care worker was tested at a state facility and was told to return to work on October 6 to resume duties.
“While all the other staff members had received their test results, the community health care worker was experiencing shortness of breath and was reluctant to return to work,” said Thole.
He added that the care worker had been conducting Covid-19 tests at roadblocks but had decided to resume her duties as a home-based caregiver as she had not received payment for the past five months.
“During this time she was in contact with a number of people including patients, nurses and staff at the clinic.”
Thole stated that the care worker inquired about her results on October 7, where it was confirmed that she had tested positive for Covid-19.
“Her father, who is over the age of 60, is also exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms. Her husband and children were also feeling ill and consulted with a private physician but have since tested negative for the virus.”
He believed that it was irresponsible to compel workers to return to work if they did not have a clean bill of health.
“During the time that she returned to work, her patients, other staff and her own family were placed at undue risk. It appears as if the health of community health care workers is not taken seriously.”
Thole said he was concerned over delays in the release of test results, especially at state health facilities.
“Precautions need to be taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by ensuring that health care workers are not infected before they return to work.”
The Department of Health did not respond to media enquiries.