NEHAWU: Over 100 staffers contracted COVID-19 at Durban hospital, protest breaks out

NEHAWU: Over 100 staffers contracted COVID-19 at Durban hospital, protest breaks out

Nurses at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital have downed tools and are protesting over a lack of proper personal protective equipment, being overworked, conditions of quarantine sites for staff, lack of testing, and after a number of nurses tested positive for coronavirus.

Nushera Soodyal

 Leadership of Nehawu were also at the hospital. 

The nursing union's provincial secretary, Ayanda Zulu says they have received reports that over 100 employees have tested positive for the virus.

"The reports we have received indicate that there are over 100 employees that have tested positive for COVID-19 here. This is currently, the biggest outbreak in the province and it's surpassed even St Augustines Hospital that has more than 80 that tested positive.

Part of the calls we have been making as a union is that workers, if they have tested positive and also during COVID-19 must be provided with maximum support and we have received reports that the places where workers are being quarantined are in a very bad state," said Zulu.

Some nurses at the hospital spoke to Newswatch on scene saying the conditions they are made to work in are unacceptable and inhuman. A nurse who spoke to Newswatch anonymously said that they come to work everyday fearing for their lives.

READ: COVID-19 'anxiety, panic and fear' plague teachers, pupils: Union

She said, ordinarily, there would be one nurse allocated to each COVID-19 patient in the hospital's ICU. The nurse says each nurse is now allocated an average of four ventilated COVID- 19 patients at a time.

"We are here because we are not happy about our working conditions. In the ICU, patient to nurse ratio is supposed to be one is to one because these patients are critically ill. In the pass week, we have been working under a lot of stress.

 We have also been short staffed and are working with three to four ventilated patients, that is compromising the patient care," said a nurse.

The nurses claim to be so overworked, that during a busy shift, a patient has died, with them noticing much later on.

Another nurse told Newswatch that they were initially given correct equipment but that has since run out.

She says they have since been given surgical suits and try to cover the rest of their bodies with whatever they have. 

Some nurses say they have had to isolate themselves from their families as they fear that if they have the virus and are symptomatic, they will pass it on to their children and partners.

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