Health officials fear that more community health centres could be shut down in the coming months as the number of staff contracting Covid-19 increases. As many as 150 health-care workers tested positive for Covid-19 at Tygerberg Hospital, IOL reported yesterday. Thirteen community health centres across the province have been temporarily closed for decontamination, with residents transferred to nearby facilities after staff members tested positive.
Nine City clinics in areas including Khayelitsha, Manenberg, Crossroads 1, Westridge, Wallacedene and Sarepta were shut down. Clinics in Grabouw, Empilisweni and Klapmuts have also been temporarily closed.Mayco member for health Zahid Badroodien said it was likely that more closures would sporadically occur in the coming months.
“When a health-care worker case is detected, a risk assessment is conducted by the City’s Occupational Health and Safety branch to determine if limited services can continue or not. Where clinic closures are necessitated, clients are referred to other nearby facilities until their facility is reopened. He said the City was issuing staff with PPE on an ongoing basis. The closures follow the death of 52-year-old Anncha Kepkey from Parow, a professional nurse and assistant manager nursing for the trauma and emergency department at Tygerberg Hospital.
She died in the Melomed Hospital in Bellville early on Wednesday after contracting Covid-19. Her death followed that of sister Ntombizakhe Ngidi, who died from the virus earlier this month. Before Ngidi, Eerste River nurse Petronella “Aunty Nellie” Benjamin, 62, died just before she was due to retire after decades of service as a health-care worker, and a week after International Nurses Day, which marks the contribution that nurses make in the health-care system and the world.
Thirty more people have died from the virus in the country, bringing the death toll to 369 and 19 137 infections, said the Health Ministry yesterday. The Western Cape accounts for 12153 of the infections, translating into 63.5% of cases in the country.
Of the national deaths, 235 were in the province, which has for some weeks been the epicentre in South Africa. Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA provincial secretary Danver Roman said health workers were under enormous pressure and needed support. The employer needs to ensure that the emotional turmoil of staff is addressed. There’s a substantial increase in infection in staff and we’re also experiencing an increase in deaths among staff, which is concerning. We’re also highly perturbed by what is happening at Tygerberg Hospital.
Nurses in the trauma unit are being ignored about decanting patients from the unit. They were forced to open a separate area for Covid-19 to appease a doctor. The area doesn’t comply with infection prevention and control and health and safety principles,” said Roman. Staff at a private hospital have meanwhile threatened to go on a strike, alleging their employer was not listening to their concerns.
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union secretary Eric Kweleta said the growing number of front-line workers contracting the virus in the public and private healthcare sectors was alarming.
“The safety and health of health workers needs to be prioritised so the quality of their work doesn’t change. We extend our deepest condolences to all the families, friends and colleagues and we honour their service to the people. Provincial Health Department spokesperson Monique Johnstone said the department had administered 20459 flu vaccinations to health-care workers in the province ahead of the winter season.
In other news – DJ Zinhle shares tips on how to protect the elderly during Covid-19
In an initiative to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, DJ Zinhle took to her Instagram page where she shared tips on protecting the elderly in homes and communities during this pandemic. Read more