Health experts have cautioned employers who rush to send their employees for Covid-19 testing. Experts say there is no need for employers to send all employees for immediate Covid-19 testing if one person tests positive in the workplace.
They however say all other employees in the business should be interviewed immediately to assess their level of exposure and whether they need to be quarantined or not.
Clinical virologist at , Professor Eftyxia Vardas says unnecessary testing is putting undue pressure on the already overwhelmed system and thereby .
Varda says if an employee has been in close contact with the positive employee, and had inadequate personal protective equipment (PPEs) or not protection at all, but has no COVID-19 symptoms, they should be sent home for self-quarantine for 14 days.
“Unless they’ve had significant contact with that infected person and what we mean by significant contact is not wearing a mask, not adhering to social distancing and sharing utensils or eating in the same area for more than 15 minutes and face to face contact closer than 1.5 meters and that of course should not be happening. Most workplaces have got criteria and instructions and protocols in place to stop significant contacts from occurring,” says Varda.
Lancet Laboratories say unnecessary testing for coronavirus has also resulted in a backlog at a number of their testing sites.
They say unnecessary tests have had an impact on the turnaround times for urgent matters that require results at healthcare facilities, saying there have a backlog of almost 20 000 swaps.
“What the backlog means is that we can’t effectively reach the turnaround times for the tests that are actually needed for the sick people and health care workers. Our turnaround time is up to four days now and that is actually a useless test,” says Vardas.
She says that they are getting a lot of requests from people outside the health care sector.
“So, a lot of people that are worried that there might have had exposure and I guess that the worry is real. We are entering a community-based epidemic at the moment but the testing has to be kept now directed to health care workers and those people that are actually are sick and in hospitals and have had high-risk contacts.”
With the rising number of infections in Gauteng, some workers have accused their employers of flouting .
It is alleged they’re forcing staff to come to work even after there have been positive cases of COVID-19 in their work area.
Lancet Laboratories is one of the companies that is being accused of violating COVID-19 protocols.
“We are really frustrated and angry because we don’t know what we will end up with, at the end of the day we still have to go to work to provide for our families,” says an anonymous Lancet laboratory worker.
“The problem is that we are an essential service, but we don’t get proper PPEs. We are not screened at work and we are told that we must check our own temperature – how am I going to do that because when I leave home I don’t even have a thermometer with me,” says the worker.
Two weeks ago one of the staff members allegedly tested positive for COVID-19.
The rest of the staffers claim that the offices were not sanitised and they were not tested yet they were forced to continue to work.
They further alleged that the company has forbidden them from talking about this issue and were instructed to come to work as if it was business as usual.
They say they were not provided with counselling to assist them during this highly stressful time.
The staffer is also angry that they are being forced to pay for the COVID-19 tests from their own pockets.
“Day in and out I am working with COVID-19 samples, the company says if I suspect I have corona then I must get tested but I must pay for the test myself. This is really unfair because we are also under a lot of stress and depression because we are vulnerable and we don’t know where to run,” says the Lancet worker.
They also claim that an email was sent out by management, at the beginning of the month, telling staff to rather monitor their own temperature daily before coming to work.
They say employees have been threatened with disciplinary action if they fail to disclose any COVID-19 related symptoms to their managers.
With job security threatened, many are afraid to disclose their symptoms and are forced to stay at home not knowing whether they will be paid or not at the end of the month.