COSATU statement on the detection of the first case of Coronavirus in South Africa

The Congress of South Africa Trade Unions has noted the detection of the first case of the Covid -19 virus in South Africa, in the province of KwaZulu Natal, according to the health department. This is disturbing because the Covid -19 virus has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation(WHO) in January this year, after it was first detected in the Chinese City of Wuhan.

We hope that the Health Department has strengthened its systems and improved its level of preparedness for this virus that is causing chaos all across the world. Frontline health workers at all levels should be adequately equipped to deal with this virus and should be given adequate knowledge and resources so that their lives are not endangered.

We also, call on the department of health to improve and expand its awareness campaign about the coronavirus to counter the misinformation and the myths about this virus.

South Africa is one of the most vulnerable countries to the coronavirus because of the high disease burden and also we have immense challenges in the public health system, such as the poor state of infrastructure, management failure, patients subjected to long queues, including a shortage of health professionals. 

The outbreak of this virus also reminds us of the foolhardiness of weakening the public service by demotivating the frontline public servants who are supposed to help deal with the outbreak through budget cuts.

This also reminds of the important role of community healthcare workers who are primarily responsible for home visits to make sure that vulnerable people are getting adequate care and do not fall through the cracks in the state’s health system. These workers need to be paid danger allowance and other allowances that will ensure that they are ready to play their important role as frontline healthcare workers.

 We also reiterate our call for these workers to be integrated into the public service at salary level 3 with all the normal conditions of employment.

Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

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