Khayelitsha hospital worker’s death being probed

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Cape Town – The provincial Health Department is investigating the death of a Khayelitsha Day Hospital (KDH) healthcare worker who allegedly tested positive for Covid-19.

Household aid Nolufefe Mdumata passed away at a private hospital early yesterday after being in ICU for several days.

Health Department spokesperson for the Khayelitsha and Eastern Substructure Sithembiso Magubane said the department was awaiting confirmation of the cause of death.

“A Khayelitsha Hospital staff member who was admitted to a private hospital has passed on. The department would like to express our sincere and deepest condolences to the family.

“We are awaiting confirmation on the cause of death and (this) will be communicated as soon as we have confirmed it,” said Magubane.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) regional secretary Zukisani Mabengu said Mdumata had tested positive for the virus.

Recently two Tygerberg nurses, Ntombizakithi Ngidi and Petronella “Aunty Nellie” Benjamin, died after being diagnosed with Covid-19.

The Western Cape remains the country’s epicenter with nine more deaths reported, bringing the death toll to 156, with a total of 9 246 confirmed cases and 3 521 recoveries.

“We are deeply concerned by the death of yet another health care worker while more are testing positive. We extend our deepest condolences to all the families, friends and colleagues at this time and we honour their service to the people.

“We have raised the issue of personal protective equipment (PPE) that are not being adequately used at health facilities and how health workers are being unfairly treated and threatened with dismissals if they report being sick or want to raise some issues.”

He said they had encouraged their members to refuse to work if they were without proper PPE.

This as healthcare worker union, Hospersa criticised the provincial health department over alleged occupational health safety violations that they said were taking place in health facilities in the province.

The union said healthcare workers in some facilities had downed tools, demanding better protection against the deadly virus.

Hospersa provincial secretary, Marthenique Marinus said: “For the province to have a fighting chance, the safety of health workers needs to be prioritised as they are the real foot soldiers against Covid-19.”

Department of Health spokesperson, Mark van der Heever said they were in regular contact with unions and had kept them informed about developments around the safety of healthcare staff.

“The concerns raised are issues which have already received attention and continue to do so. Health facilities are also places where gatherings occur and over the last few days we have found positive cases of staff at various health facilities across the province.

“All staff in the affected areas are screened. Testing will be done for those who are deemed at risk and will be sent home while awaiting their results.

“In the event a staff member or client tests positive, all close contacts will be asked to quarantine at home. As per protocol, the facility or affected area will be decontaminated and deep-cleaned, in line with prescribed infection prevention standards and reopened with staff who do not pose a risk,” Van der Heever said.

Cape Times

By Okuhle Hlati and Yolisa Tswanya


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