Heath authorities in Mpumalanga are accused of forcing workers to report on duty while awaiting coronavirus test results.

It is alleged that two nurses at the Boschfontein Clinic in Nkomazi were forced to return to work before they got their COVID-19 test results, after a colleague tested positive for COVID-19.

The nurses who had contact with her also got tested. They quarantined pending their test results. However, they were allegedly ordered to return to work or face consequences.

The clinic has since been closed for decontamination.

Call for action against managers

Health officials should be custodians of the COVID-19 regulations, but in Mpumalanga, they are accused of exposing workers and patients to the deadly coronavirus.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has called for action against managers who bully workers.

Mpumalanga Nehawu Secretary, Welcome Mnisi has accused the provincial Health Department of delivering services at the expense of workers.

“We have already indicated to the department to correct that. It is happening in the entire province. There are certain managers that do not understand the regulations and the guidelines. As, Nehawu, we are not going to tolerate that. That’s why we have now embarked on a programme of action which is going to start as from August until September.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the province wants action to be taken against those who recalled the nurses from isolation. DA provincial leader, Jane Sithole, says the manager responsible should be disciplined.

“The manager must be disciplined so that we do not deal with the repetition of such situations. We are dealing with human beings here. That manager must be disciplined and to carry on with a behaviour like this, it shows that she is not even fit to hold that position because she should understand the ethics around COVID-19. You can’t just flout the protocol as you wish. That is a clear cut that you don’t understand your role as the manager of people that are working with the community.”

Investigation under way

Provincial Health Department Spokesperson, Dumisani Malamule, says an investigation is under way. He says the clinic was closed for decontamination.

“We have already started to institute an investigation and the outcome of that investigation will determine what the next course of action is. But in the meantime, we have already moved with speed. We have closed the clinic and we have started the tracing process to check the people who came in contact with the two officials who have tested positive. With regard to the public, we are going to also trace because, in terms of the COVID-19 regulations, every person who enters our facility must be screened, the temperature must be taken and their ID numbers and their names, contact number, and their physical address.”

To date, more than 11 500 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the province and over 600 of the cases are health workers.

Below is the breakdown of COVID-19 statistics in South Africa: