TB hospital closes following COVID-19 fears

Govan Whittles has the story. Courtesy #DStv403

PORT ELIZABETH - A fourth health institution has been closed in Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape amid a stand-off between nurses and the Health Department over coronavirus.

The Empilweni TB Hospital in New Brighton was shut on Wednesday after nurses downed tools because the facility is set to be used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Staff members are demanding the department test them for the virus after one of the nurses there tested positive. 

COVID-19: Retired nurses to the rescue

Nurses at Empilweni say all tuberculosis patients have been discharged to make way for COVID-19 cases. 

They are willing to be on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus, but not at the expense of TB patients.

"Within those patients, there are some who are still highly infectious and pose a high risk in the community," said NMB Denosa secretary Yonela Zengetwa.

READ: Cape health workers voice concern on International Nurses Day

"They have now agreed to test us all on-site. That's a big victory for us because these nurses were working unsure of whether they have the virus. Now they will know."

Their protest resulted in the Health Department closing the facility for two weeks to prepare it for COVID-19 patients.

The Health Department's spokesperson didn't respond to requests for comment.

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