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Eastern Cape facing protective gear supply issues for health workers

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said his department is ensuring there is enough personal protective equipment for frontline health workers, but there have been a few issues - like those that emerged while Mkhize visited Eastern Cape hospitals last week.

Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said while there is sufficient protective gear for health workers fighting coronavirus, it has been distributed unevenly.

Mkhize briefed Parliament's Health Committee on the latest coronavirus developments.

He revealed they have put in orders for more personal protective equipment that will provide stock for the next six weeks.

He added his department is ensuring there is enough personal protective equipment for frontline health workers, but there have been a few issues - like those that emerged while Mkhize visited Eastern Cape hospitals last week.

“We found that a large number of stock that has been ordered but not delivered. We intervened immediately. We went into the stock where the stuff was being stored. And actually moved some of the PPE’s quickly to deal with the issue in the Eastern Cape,” Mkhize said.

As orders may be delayed at times, Mkhize said equipment stock must be distributed to provinces that need it - irrespective of whether they are waiting for an order.

“There must now be an easy way of withdrawing the money from an order that has not been delivered, to purchase immediate supplies."

The Solidarity Fund is helping to bring the necessary equipment into the country and then provincial governments will be able to procure what they need.

BETTER PROTECTION FOR POLICE

Meanwhile, policing Union, Sapu, wants more measures to protect officers from the virus.

On Sunday, Lentegeur Police Station became the latest station to be closed due to a confirmed infection.

Over the weekend, Philippi-East and Cape Town Central police stations were closed and officers are now operating from alternative sites.

Sapu president Mpho Kwinika said there's too much focus on masks and gloves and not enough on other measures to protect officers.

He said there's no social distancing in police vehicles and officers swap cars during shifts, without these vehicles being properly disinfected.

Kwinika added there is also a lack of screening when officers report for work.

He stressed resources need to be added now more than ever and he's calling on government to step in and prioritise these front line workers.