FILE PHOTO Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA).

No protective gear, no work says Nursing Union

About 24 000 health workers in South Africa have been infected with the Coronavirus and 181 have died since the pandemic hit the country in March.

DURBAN – The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) says the increase in Covid-19 infections and death of health workers in South Africa is “no longer a crisis but a catastrophe’.

This is after health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that about 24 000 health workers in South Africa have been infected with the Coronavirus and 181 have died since the pandemic hit the country in March.

“The rising figures of those infected juxtaposed with the continuing claims by provincial departments that there is sufficient supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to institutions, whereas health workers complain of poor quality and poor protection, is indicative of the urgent need to look into real the factors behind the rising figures,” said the Nurses Union.

In 2017, the national regulator the South African Nursing Council revealed in a report that Almost half of registered nurses and midwives practising legally in South Africa were above the age of 50 as of 2017. About 20 percent of these workers were over the age of 60.

Since the start of the pandemic, unions have raised concerns about safety in hospitals as well as the availability, quality and size of protective gear. Last week health-care workers blamed the shortages of quality PPE for the death of at least eight doctors from Covid-19 in Gauteng public hospitals.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Zweli Mkwize, said he would act against hospital administrators who failed to ensure workplace safety.

“With these rising figures, we reiterate the call that healthcare workers must not risk their own lives when the employer is not providing PPE, and our members must report any area of concern or intimidation to their shop stewards or provincial office,” read a statement from the union.

About 102 companies are being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for corrupt Covid-19 fund tenders in Gauteng province alone.

 

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