Relieved Mdantsane health workers tested for virus

Health officials visit clinics, supermarkets and filling stations in Mdantsane to test and screen workers.
Health officials visit clinics, supermarkets and filling stations in Mdantsane to test and screen workers.

Health workers at clinics in Mdantsane were tested for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday — much to the relief of nurses who fear they are at risk of contracting Covid-19 due to the nature of their jobs.

About 50 community health workers, 12 clinicians and five co-ordinators visited clinics, supermarkets and filling stations where tests were conducted and workers screened.

Nurses at one clinic, who spoke to DispatchLIVE on condition of anonymity, welcomed the tests and said it showed the department cared about their health.

One nurse said: “This is a rare and scary virus and testing for it makes us happy because we will know if we have it or not. As health workers, we deal with people who come with different kinds of illnesses. Sometimes some have some symptoms of the virus and it makes it uncomfortable but we always used caution such as sanitising our hands and wearing masks.”

She said the test was uncomfortable and the wait for results would be an anxious one.

Another worker said when she returned home from work each day, she had a bath and washed her uniform before seeing her children.

“They are more scared of this than I am and their fear is that I will be the one to come home with it because of my line of work. I am glad that I tested today. I did not show any symptoms.

“The results may come back negative but testing only helps us to know our status. But what if someone comes here tomorrow and infects us while waiting for the results? This testing would have been in vain. It would be better if we could await our results while not working,” she said.

Nurses raised concern that tests were only being conducted now — more than a month after the first case emerged in SA. Since then, the number of those infected has surpassed the 2,000 mark.  

“We feel bad that we are only tested now when the virus has been around for this long. We don’t know if someone has the virus or not because its symptoms are known very late and we don’t have a choice but to serve the people.”

Shopkeeper Xolile Sidinana of NU10, who was screened at his workplace and given the thumbs up, said he was relieved.

“Every day when I wake up I check if I have any of the symptoms before I go to work. That also is tricky because, as careful as I am, I might get infected somewhere else. It would make it easier if we could all be provided with masks.” 

A concerned Ayanda Cingo, who had gone to the clinic for treatment, said the chances of getting infected in public places such as clinics was high.

“We get sanitised at the gate but that is not enough. Everyone needs to be tested.”

Spokesperson for health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, Judy Ngoloyi, said the department would test and screen staff throughout the province.

“It’s an ongoing exercise meant to protect our staff during this period,” she said.

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