Tshwane’s healthcare workers facing a spike in Covid infections

Healthcare workers in Tshwane are at a high risk, as they have been deployed to Covid hotspots to raise awareness and do vaccinations.

Despite the capital city showing a drastic decrease in Covid infections in the past week, Tshwane’s healthcare workers have been on the receiving end of a wave of infections, with 200 new cases recorded since November and 60 healthcare workers currently in isolation.

The South African Medical Assocation (SAMA) once referred to Tshwane as the global epicentre of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, during the initial massive wave of infections which swept over the country and the world.

But now, while ordinary residents have seen a decrease, the city’s healthcare workers are increasingly getting infected, said Tshwane MMC of health Rina Marx.

Marx is concerned about the high number of healthcare workers getting sick and the effect of having nearly 60 currently in isolation due to infections will have on the sector.

“This is worrisome as the city’s healthcare workers play a significant role in the fight against Covid. Healthcare workers are at the forefront educating residents about the virus. They also conduct screening and tests for our residents. Furthermore, they are also tasked with treating and caring for patients at our clinics and other health facilities,” she said.

Mayoral spokesperson Sipho Stuurman said the healthcare workers were deployed to Covid hotspots to raise awareness and vaccinate patients, leaving them exposed and at risk.

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“What is important is most of our staff is vaccinated, meaning the infections have not been that severe. They have been able to recover from it and no deaths have been reported. But what is also important is that most of them are able to fully recover and expect the 60 in isolation to also fully recover.”

While cases in Gauteng had decreased over the past week, there was a significant decrease in Tshwane from 25 000 last week to 14 000 this week. Sunday recorded a low 909 new Covid infections.

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This decrease could be due to a number of factors including a lot of people already being infected, and those who walk around with symptoms without testing, said SAMA chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee.

“The decrease could be due to a lot of people that might be infected and are now getting out of it. People might be less infected, or people might be too lazy to test anymore and just walk around with their body aches and pains, and lastly, they are all on leave and some have gone home or gone down to the coast to spread the virus there.”

“We will see when they come back what happens then, and whether we will see a spike again. But for now, there is definitely a decrease in Gauteng for more than a week.”

Marx said the decrease could also have been due to heightened preventative measures since the announcement of Omicron.

“Media reports on the discovery of the new variant made people more cautious to again adhere to Covid health protocols… There was a clear increase in vaccinations after the new variant and the fact that it was highly contagious became known,” said Marx.


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