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NW health head office closed as 3 staffers test positive for COVID-19

A statement on Thursday confirmed that two of the employees who tested positive were based at the main provincial office building while the third was based at the medical depot.

FILE: The North West Department of Health head office in Mahikeng. Picture: Masechaba Sefularo/EWN.

BRITS – The North West Department of Health head office in Mahikeng has been closed for decontamination after three staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.

A statement on Thursday confirmed that two of the employees who tested positive were based at the main provincial office building while the third was based at the medical depot which is also part of the provincial offices.

“The department wish to state that at the time when labour and employees were briefed, the confirmed cases were only two, but by late yesterday the third case had been confirmed,” said the department’s spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane.

Some staff have accused management of not complying with the COVID-19 regulations for employees working on site.

A staff member at the head office said the department had struggled to implement the measures announced by Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi when outlining the easing of the lockdown to make way for the slow return to economic activity.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the worker said the department had “never been on lockdown” and failed to provide the necessary protective equipment until last week.

“People came to work with no PPE for a month. Only recently these were delivered.”

The staffer said even then, they felt the PPE did not meet the required standards.

“As you may know, the lifespan of a surgical mask is four hours, yet we are at work for eight hours.”

The department has been accused of not communicating adequately and thus placing officials at risk.

Lekgethwane said the offices would reopen on Monday, 20 July 2020.

“Contact tracing has began and all employees who were in contact with the positive employees have been urged to self-isolate. Those contacts with symptoms are advised to go for COVID-19 test.”

At the same time, officials at the department’s Brits office also said poor communication around cases had also caused them to fear for their health.

Hebron clinic is the latest facility to close after several cases were confirmed. Now the sub-district has reported cases, but it is unclear when decontamination will take place.

Earlier this month, North West Premier Job Mokgoro announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and stayed at a Johannesburg facility for isolation. It's now been reported that Mokgoro, who said he’d shown very few symptoms, was back home after being cleared by doctors.

Mokgoro was one of the officials who had been in contact with cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs MEC Gordon Kegakilwe who died of COVID-19 related complications.

The province has recorded 11, 225 infections, 48 deaths and 2,578 recoveries to date.

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