Union calls for the shutting down of Far East Rand Hospital amid Covid-19 safety concerns

  • The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers wants Far East Rand Hospital to be shut down for decontamination.
  • The union says there are five Covid-19 cases at the hospital.
  • The Gauteng health department says the affected units were decontaminated a week ago.

The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) is calling for Far East Rand Hospital in Springs to be shut down amid Covid-19 safety concerns.

"Police arrived when we were there, so we could not picket. They refused [to allow] us to even have a meeting with management and we are dealing with five cases of Covid[-19] at the hospital," Nupsaw media officer Kagiso Mokoe told News24 on Wednesday.

The union wanted to picket at the hospital after it allegedly ignored demands.

"The picket intends to show the certainty of Nupsaw within the hospital that remained ignorant to the demands addressed by our members concerning personal protective equipment (PPE) and a safe working environment, which has led to many of our members testing positive for Covid-19," the union said.

According to Makoe, the union is demanding that staff be allowed to quarantine at home and that the facility be shut down for decontamination.

"Management is refusing those with close contact to quarantine until they get their results. They still have to work and management has resorted to intimidating staff members who have demanded the employer to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

"We want the whole hospital to be shut down and the entire facility to be decontaminated," she added.

READ | Mkhize: Health workers are our primary soldiers in coronavirus fight, they have to be safe

But the Gauteng Department of Health told News24 on Wednesday that all high-risk contacts were advised to quarantine for 14 days.

"All the affected units (laundry, transport, the porter's office and the testing unit) were shut down to disinfect, decontaminate and fog," departmental spokesperson Kwara Kekana said.

"Those employees who cannot self-isolate are provided with facilities for isolation at Esselen Park, between Kempton Park and Tembisa," she added.

Kekana further clarified that the disinfection of areas took place more than a week ago.

The union says it will attempt to consult with management.

"We are still trying to secure a meeting with management over the next two days. If not, we will  mobilise and go picket at the hospital," Makoe said.

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