Unions call for closure of Zwide Clinic after 11 staff members test positive
Several health sector unions have taken a united stand after 11 health workers tested positive for COVID-19 at a Port Elizabeth clinic.
In a joint statement on Sunday, the five health sector trade unions joined forces to bring about the closure of the Zwide Clinic in Port Elizabeth after 11 health workers allegedly tested positive for COVID-19.
The health unions calling for the clinic’s closure with immediate effect from Monday, are:
- The South African State and Allied Workers’ Union (Sasawu);
- Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa);
- National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu);
- Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Demawusa); and
- Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU).
Death of pharmacy employee the catalyst
According to the statement, other staff members at the clinic were still awaiting the outcome of their test results after an employee, who worked in the pharmacy, died and was “found to be COVID-19 positive”.
The state clinic’s staff demanded to be tested and the entire clinic deep-cleaned, but the unions claim that only the pharmacy where the deceased staff member had worked, has been cleaned.
They said when the test results started to come in last Thursday, one staff member had tested positive, and by Saturday, this number had climbed to 11 cases.
“On Friday 8 May, all health unions asked the district [provincial health department] to close the clinic, send staff home until they know their results, and to bring the disinfecting team back to clean the whole clinic” the statement read.
New standard operating plan
“In response, the district issued a new standard operating plan which says all health workers who have tested for the coronavirus, must continue to work until they get their results,” the unions said.
“Our combined belief as health unions is that should any clinic staff member test positive for COVID-19, the staff must be tested and at least given a chance to isolate and the facilities must be cleaned entirely.”
More cases: Clinic workers at high risk
It remains to be seen whether the health department will appoint additional staff members who will serve at other facilities, as has been the case after a nurse at the Promosa Clinic, in Potchefstroom, tested positive for the virus on Wednesday 6 May.
The Diepsloot South Clinic, in Midrand, also closed last Wednesday after a staff member tested positive. The township, with a population of 300 000 people, has recorded the highest number of positive cases in Gauteng at 133.
According to IOL, the member was part of a team conducting door-to-door screenings.
Ward councillor Abraham Mabuke said the health worker collapsed after seeing her test results on her cellphone, which had been sent to her by SMS.
“It’s a problem now. Health authorities have to try and trace her movement around the community and also at the clinic where she was working.”