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Health workers strike at EC clinic over COVID-19 safety concerns

Nehawu representative Eulalia Lalley said that workers had embarked on a shut down on Monday, calling for safer working conditions.

FILE: Medical swabs to test for the coronavirus. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) said that health workers based at the Mount Frere Gateway Clinic in the Eastern Cape had stopped working due to serious concerns around COVID-19.

Union representative Eulalia Lalley said that workers had embarked on a shut down on Monday, calling for safer working conditions.

She said that Mount Frere residents joined the workers as they protested outside the facility.

Lalley said that health workers and community members would not stop demonstrating until they were satisfied with the conditions at the clinic.

She said that four health workers at the facility recently tested positive, but the clinic was not adequately cleaned and sanitised.

Lalley claimed that a service provider was sent to the clinic last week and sprayed a substance in the presence of workers and patients.

Concerned, they asked members of the company if the facility shouldn't have been evacuated and closed for decontamination to take place safely and effectively.

Lalley claimed that the cleaners responded that they were not using harmful chemicals and it would be safe to drink water.

Medical workers and patients were worried that the sanitising substance used was not effective enough to kill the coronavirus.

“They’re not comfortable at all. They want that place to be deep cleaned.”

Lalley said that there was a lack of running water, no personal protective equipment, no social distancing measures in place and patients visiting the facility did not get their temperatures checked by security on arrival.

The Eastern Cape Health Department is yet to respond to the claims.

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