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Ill-preparedness for fourth wave and new variant will cost lives, says Nehawu

THE National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has urged government to intensify educational programmes on vaccination amid the feared fourth wave. File Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

THE National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has urged government to intensify educational programmes on vaccination amid the feared fourth wave. File Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 29, 2021

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PRETORIA – The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has called on the government to put in place “extra adequate measures” in South Africa’s health-care system to effectively respond to the new variant and the dreaded fourth wave.

“These measures should entail among others, the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), procuring hospital beds, procuring oxygen points and ventilators and employing more health-care workers including absorbing community health-care workers,” said Zola Saphetha, general secretary of Nehawu.

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“The government cannot afford to be under-prepared and have a lacklustre response as in the previous waves”.

He said health-care workers in South Africa have experienced the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially with the previous waves.

“Government should effectively respond to this new variant and the fourth wave and not put workers lives in danger because of complacency and unpreparedness,” Saphetha said.

Nehawu urged government to accelerate the vaccination roll-out programme to people and further drive a comprehensive educational awareness programme about the safety of vaccines in providing protection against severe illness, death and hospitalisation.

“This will also assist a great deal in dealing with the vaccine hesitancy that is prevalent amongst our people,” Saphetha said.

“We welcome the announcement to provide health-care workers with a booster jab of the J&J vaccine, however government should develop better ways of encouraging health-care workers to speedily get their booster jab.

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“We also note the application by Pfizer to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority to provide booster shots. These are welcomed interventions in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.”

Yesterday, South Africa reported 2 858 new Covid-19 cases and a six Covid-19 related deaths, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said.

This comes days after a new variant was discovered.

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“The institute reports 2 858 new Covid-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2 961 406,” said the institute.

The NICD says the increase represents a 9.8% positivity rate.

A further six Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 89 797.

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A total of 19 413 079 tests have been conducted in both public and private sectors.

The majority of new cases are from Gauteng (81%), followed Western Cape accounting for 5%.

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