Personnel congregated outside the building, where they indicated that they had been in contact with the doctor who they believed had tested positive.
EMPLOYEES refused to enter a section of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley on Wednesday morning after they were informed that a medical staff member had apparently tested positive for Covid-19.
According to the staff, a doctor received positive test results on Tuesday.
Personnel congregated outside the building, where they indicated that they had been in contact with the doctor who they believed had tested positive. The staff added that they had not been tested and were expected to continue working.
“We were told that we would only be tested if we started showing symptoms and by then it will be too late.”
Following protests by union members, it was apparently agreed to test and screen affected workers.
Union representatives also insisted that the specific section of the hospital should be decontaminated and that the staff not resume their duties until they had received the results of their tests.
Meanwhile, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it would lay a complaint with the HOD and MEC for Health, as well as the South African Human Rights Commission, after a high-ranking official at the Department of Health allegedly told a human resource employee to “use a panty as a mask” when she requested a face mask.
According to a formal grievance that was laid on May 19, the employee felt “humiliated and embarrassed”.
A request was made for the senior official to apologise and be disciplined.
Nehawu branch chairperson Godfrey Davids said that the remark was degrading to women.
“The employee is required to interact with a number of staff members and was not provided with proper protection. Personnel on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic are expected to work without masks,” said Davids.
He believed that staff were not informed timeously about the apparent positive case in order to contain the spread of the virus. “The doctor, who is believed to be positive, continued to work until he received his test results.”
Nehawu regional secretary Moleme Moleme added that communication from the employer to labour unions remained “a huge problem”.
“Structures such as occupational health and safety committees are not functioning due to a lack of management will. Labour representatives should be included in the task team,” said Moleme.
He indicated that they had demanded that the building be disinfected overnight and that all workers in the identified area be tested.
“All workers must be screened at the point of entry and all Covid-19 regulations must be implemented as a matter of urgency. ”
Vincent Phuroe from the Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) added that all unions would continue engaging with management on Thursday.
“We have made it very clear to management that we do not want workers to go back to the area until it is properly disinfected and all workers undergo testing.”
Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) provincial vice-chairperson Dennis Segano pointed out that the regulations dictated that any person who had come into contact with a Covid-19 positive case had to be quarantined for 14 days.
“While we have advised members to self-isolate until they have received their test results, some members have chosen to continue working as there is no contingency plan to ensure that there are enough staff members to take care of the patients.
“Precautions also need to be taken to prevent patients from infection.”
The Department of Health did not respond to media enquiries.