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Hospersa, a union organising in both the public and private healthcare sector as well as in tourism organisations [SANParks and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife], is becoming increasingly concerned over the rate of infections of COVID-19 coronavirus in South Africa.
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared coronavirus a pandemic due to global figures, South Africa has seventeen (17) confirmed cases so far and it seems the virus is gaining momentum in the country.
Hospersa has called on government to increase efforts of empowering health workers, especially front line workers in clinics and hospitals, with the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to battle this virus. The Union has also supported its federation’s call [FEDUSA] to the Employment and Labour Minister to urgently consider intervention measures that will mitigate the impact of the potential effects of the coronavirus in the South African World of Work.
Yesterday, the WHO declared covid-19 coronavirus a pandemic following the global outbreak of more than 118 000 cases in 114 countries and claiming around 4 291 lives. In South Africa, it seems the virus is only just gaining momentum with confirmed cases jumping from seven (7) on Tuesday to seventeen (17) by Thursday afternoon.
Hospersa has called on its members in both the public and the private health sector to take the necessary precautions in preventing the spread of the virus. The Union has also called on the Department of Health (DoH) to provide the protective clothing and training to health workers as they will be at the coal face of this virus when attending to suspected and confirmed cases.
“Hospersa calls on its members to promote and take the necessary prevention measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” said Hospersa Public Relations Officer Kevin Halama. “We are all aware of the many challenges faced by the Department of Health (DoH) especially in public health facilities where poor infrastructure, lack of medication, over-crowding in wards and staff shortages have become the face of the department. A virus of this nature needs all of us to be active citizens to prevent an even bigger outbreak which could all but collapse the already depleted public healthcare system,” added Halama.
“We urge government to take lead in this venture by ensuring that public health facilities in all corners of the country are geared up with protective clothing and screening equipment for health workers,” said Halama. “We demand that all health workers should be equipped with the knowledge and the necessary information toolkits to deal with this virus. Private health organisation, whom in most instances are profit-driven, should also take into cognisance the threat of a bigger outbreak to a country like ours and should assist government with preventative measures,” said Halama.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA), which Hospersa is affiliated to, has called on the Minister of Employment and Labour [Thulas Nxesi] to lead the way in mobilizing for a special Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Dispensation for workers affected by the coronavirus. This call by the federation comes in the wake of the fact that existing legislation does not make provision for workers who must be quarantined for compulsory 21 days after testing positive for the virus, to claim sick leave, nor be paid for the time that they are away from work.
It is in this context that FEDUSA has called on Minister Nxesi to gazette a special policy that will activate a special UIF payment for quarantined workers. Hospersa supports this call by its federation citing that many health workers could be impacted if the infection rate in South Africa continues to climb.
“We support this call as many of our members in hospitals and clinics are at the coal face of the virus and are more likely to contract it when they come into contact with suspected and confirmed cases. Minister Nxesi needs to be proactive in putting measures in place to assist workers who might test positive for coronavirus, especially those who might contract it while performing their call of duty” said Halama.
“Hospersa will continue supporting its members in communicating preventative measures through its communication platforms. The Union will also escalate all concerns and shortcomings brought forward by its members to the relevant DoH structures at provincial and national level to ensure health workers do not end up as unnecessary casualties during the fight of this deadly outbreak,” concluded Halama.
Issued by Hospersa