Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Swaziland coronavirus tests halted as technicians demand protective equipment

Coronavirus medical laboratory technicians in Swaziland (eSwatini) stopped work in protest that they were not given personal protective equipment while they were working. 

Separately, regional response teams who are tracing people who have come into contact with the virus stopped work demanding extra risk payments.

As a result all coronavirus (COVID-19) tests were halted across the kingdom on Monday (1 June 2020). More than 60 technicians at Mbabane Government Hospital – the only coronavirus testing facility in Swaziland – delivered a petition directed to Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula.

They argued they had risked their lives from the start of the coronavirus crisis and still did not have personal protective equipment (PPE), including head covers, eye shields, masks, scrubs, disposable coats, aprons, shoe covers, sanitisers, soap and a sink. 

They said if they did not get the PPE they would shut down all 97 public laboratories in the kingdom. There are 267 technicians.

The Swazi Government does not consider the technicians to be an essential service during the coronavirus crisis and therefore they are not supplied with PPE.

Meanwhile, regional response teams in the Manzini and Shiselweni regions stopped work in protest after failing to get responses from the Ministry of Health to their demands for risk and overtime payments. Contact tracing and screening were halted.

They are also concerned about a lack of lack of PPE and their own regular testing.

On Monday the Ministry of Health announced the third death in Swaziland from coronavirus, a 42-year-old man from the Manzini region. A total of 293 people have tested positive so far.

See also

Swaziland short of coronavirus protective equipment for health workers as prices soar

Swaziland policeman shoots boy, 15, playing football during coronavirus lockdown

One-year-old tests positive for coronavirus in Swaziland

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