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Concern as 761 WC healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said hospital staff had been working flat out under very stressful circumstances since March.

FILE: Snorkel masks protect healthcare personnel at Tygerberg Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Image: Western Cape Government.

CAPE TOWN - As the Western Cape Health Department anticipates the peak of the second COVID-19 wave, the province's healthcare workers are not being spared.

Seven hundred and sixty one health department staff in the province are currently infected with the coronavirus and five of them have died over the past two weeks.

There are currently more than 34,000 active cases in the Western Cape, that's 61% more than in the first peak.

The department is observing rising cases of infections in healthcare workers.

At present, 761 of the active cases are health workers, 58 of those are undergoing hospital treatment.

On Tuesday, Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said hospital staff had been working flat out under very stressful circumstances since March.

“We can have as many beds as possible, but the beds need faces, the faces need hearts and the hearts need hands. They were there during the first wave and they’re exhausted.”

The exhaustion and the spread of the virus means more leave too; a third of the department's staff have taken COVID related leave since March.

Provincial Head of Health Dr Cloete said they were looking to bulk up staff numbers.

“We’re looking to employ 1,327 nurses and 44% of that is to office people who are on short-term contracts extensions. There is an official request to the military to assist with additional staff members”

Cloete adds the department has gone through a recruitment drive by extending its bursary programme and are also working through their volunteer lists.

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