The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro continues to deal with the increase in coronavirus infections, but stricter COVID-19 regulations are possibly on the cards to curb the rapid spread. The acting mayor of the metro, Thsonono Buyeye says they are reviewing decisions around the opening time regulations and the sale of alcohol.
The infection rate in the Eastern Cape remains the highest in the country. The province is dealing with more than 8200 active cases.
Public gatherings and non-compliance to the regulations have been identified as the leading cause for the rapid spread.
Buyeye says their main priority is to minimise activities that may result in the spread of COVID-19.
“We had to make a call that can’t we make the closing time at taverns to be 10pm so that this gives people enough time to leave and be home by 12 and also gives the tavern owners enough time to close down. We have also been talking to tavern and liquor traders, like those in the township, that they must work from Monday to Thursday and that weekends they must only sell takeaways.”
Nelson Mandela Bay Metro overwhelmed by coronavirus cases:
The Eastern Cape Health Department is also dealing with labour problems affecting its management of the pandemic. The department suspended 38 nurses from the Empilweni TB Hospital in Port Elizabeth for allegedly refusing to work with COVID-19 patients.
The nurses downed tools after the hospital was turned into a COVID-19 treatment hospital.
Spokesperson for the Department of Health Sizwe Kupelo says decisive action will be taken.
“Our stance is very clear, that we cannot have employees who are on our payroll but are refusing to do their jobs. Simultaneously we are engaging with their respective unions to discuss issues relating to some of the concerns raised by the department and by unions. But we wish to appeal to everyone that during this time of the pandemic we need to ensure that we pull ourselves so we save lives of those who end up in our facilities.”
However, the health workers union, Denosa, says it stands by the nurses. Provincial Secretary, Khaya Sodidi says these workers remain against the department’s decision to convert the TB hospital into a COVID-19 one, saying they were never consulted.
“We are in full support of the 38 nurses suspended at Empilweni TB Hospital. These nurses are suspended because they are refusing to accept the new conditions, which have been introduced by the department in that hospital, which have never been consulted on. That hospital is a TB hospital but the department woke up and converted it into a COVID-19 institution, which has also affected the working conditions of the workers at Empilweni.”
Buyeye also expressed concern about the upcoming initiation season. He says with the shortage of health care professionals, and the congestion in hospitals, it remains unclear how the metro would deal with an outbreak in initiation schools.
But, traditional initiations remain suspended for now and a decision to reopen the custom is still to be made.
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