DURBAN – South Africa’s healthcare workers are increasingly becoming infected with Covid-19, with nurses being the hardest hit. In the Western Cape about 1 248 nurses in the public sector have been infected with the Coronavirus.
On June 3, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) implored governments to compile data on healthcare worker (HCW) Covid-19 infections and deaths. As yet there is no global registry to track the pandemic’s impact on HCWs, although it has infected an estimated 230 000 and led to the deaths of 600 nurses. Analysis by the ICN suggests that on average, 7 percent of all Covid-19 cases worldwide occur among HCWs.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has previously stated that the number of healthcare workers in the public sector as of May 28, amounted to 2,084, with approximately 80 percent in the Western Cape.
According to Compensation Fund commissioner, Vuyo Mafata, most of those affected are nurses in the private sector with 65 affected in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), 26 in Western Cape and 18 in Gauteng. In the Eastern Cape 12 nurses that have been affected are in the public sector.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) in KwaZulu-Natal says it has noted that the number of health workers infected in the province is increasing despite the province having improved on the procurement of PPE (at this stage we can confirm that the PPE is available in almost all district’s.)
“As Denosa, we are concerned about what could be attributable to these rising infections while the department claims to be providing PPE sufficiently. Furthermore, we are concerned that nurses are given surgical masks, with each nurse given one surgical mask per day. We propose that nurses be given at least three masks per day and be exposed to continuous workshops and in-service training,” said Denosa KZN Provincial Secretary, Mandla Shabangu.
The Department of Employment and Labour said it has begun to provide compensation for those workers in the healthcare sector who might otherwise find themselves without any income as a result of the virus.
It said that already, the Compensation Fund (CF) has seen 212 Covid-19 related claims with the largest number coming from KwaZulu-Natal having registered 76 claims. The fund has accepted liability of 67 of those claims; two have been repudiated while seven are awaiting adjudication.
The Western Cape is the second biggest applicant with 75 claims with 41 of those accepted and 34 awaiting adjudication, the department said.
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