KwaMashu paramedics refuse to work until they’re tested for Covid-19

They have been told only symptomatic people would be tested, despite asymptomatic colleague testing positive

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Paramedics at Poly Clinic in KwaMashu refused to work on Tuesday after the facility management said they would not be tested despite a colleague, without serious symptoms, testing positive for Covid-19 last week. Photo: Zimbili Vilakazi

About 50 Emergency Medical Rescue Services paramedics at Poly Clinic in KwaMashu, north of Durban, have not worked since Tuesday, alleging that management refused to test them for Covid-19.

We spoke to a paramedic on condition that their name be withheld. The paramedic said their request to be tested came after a colleague tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

“We gave management four days to test us, but they made it clear that we’re not going to be tested because one of the regulations states that only a symptomatic person should be tested.”

“The colleague who tested positive was asymptomatic. She only went to see a doctor after she suffered a minor headache. What if we also have the virus but we’re asymptomatic?” asked the paramedic.

S’fiso Dlamini of the National Public Service Workers Union said the union wanted the health department to reconsider only testing symptomatic frontline workers.

“We’re sitting with a positive case of a paramedic who was asymptomatic. That speaks volumes as to how risky this clause is. As we speak, we have no idea how many others are infected in this facility because the management is following this dangerous clause,” said Dlamini.

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has acknowledged our email but is yet to respond to our questions. The department’s comment will be included once received.

TOPICS:  Covid-19 Health

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