More health workers infected in the Eastern Cape as numbers rise
Four East London health workers test positive as E. Cape sees a significant increase in new cases reported.
Four more Eastern Cape health department workers have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing to 57 the number of provincial health workers who are known to be infected. Three have died.
The Daily Dispatch reports that a part of the call centre building in East London has now been closed for decontamination, deep cleaning and further investigation.
It is understood that the call centre itself, which has around 80 personnel, will continue to operate. It gives mainly telephonic counselling to patients and supports emergency responders.
The call centre building also houses other provincial health services, including the offices of MEC Sindiswa Gomba and Superintendent-General Dr Thobile Mbengashe. Both are reported to have tested negative, the Daily Dispatch said.
It quotes Health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo as saying: “All contacts of the positive employees will be followed up for tracing and testing. This will also apply to all other staff in the building.”
Kupelo added the four officials tested positive despite all precautions taken, including the use of personal protective equipment and hand sanitisers.
Big rise in Eastern Cape infections
The Eastern Cape now has the third highest number of COVID-19 infections, having overtaken KwaZulu-Natal.
SABC News reported on Saturday, 16 May that the rapid rise in infections in the Eastern Cape is slowing down the turnaround time for test results. In all, 91% of new infections reported are coming from either the Western Cape or the Eastern Cape.
The Eastern Cape has screened about one million people already and conducted more than 30 000 tests. But now it takes as long as five days for results which used to take just 48 hours. The tracing of contacts is, therefore, becoming increasingly difficult, the broadcaster said.
Health workers say managers are hoarding PPE
Still in the Eastern Cape, the Daily Maverick reported in mid-week that health workers at clinics and hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay were protesting at a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). They said managers at hospitals were hoarding PPE ‘for when the outbreak comes’.
In response, health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said this was being addressed with managers because PPE has been delivered to most facilities.
“Personal Protective Equipment has been made available throughout the province and some corporate companies, and individuals have donated as well. It would be wrong for managers to become stingy with much-needed PPE; we cannot send front-line soldiers to a war without ammunition. The Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, himself made sure that 1.5-million masks and gloves were sent to the metro,” he told the Daily Maverick.