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“I Fear For My Health”; Worker Who Shared Cubicle With Covid-19 Patient Speaks

A City of Cape Town staff member working in the motor vehicle licensing department at the Civic Centre says she fears for her health after finding out that a colleague tested positive for Covid-19.

The employee, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said staff found out that the colleague tested positive on Wednesday – two days after they had worked together.

According to the City’s Covid-19 guidelines for the screening, monitoring and management of employees, staff showing symptoms should not be allowed to work and those in close contact need to be separated from other employees and customers by going into quarantine.

None of this happened, according to the employee, who said she felt the City was playing with their health and lives.

“I still helped him because he had licences he needed help with. He was in my cubicle on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, he worked until about 11am and went to the hospital.”

She said they were then told to leave the office for decontamination.

“When we asked whether they shouldn’t close, they said no, and they only closed for about two hours to decontaminate.”

She said she and her family decided that she would live in another part of the house and self-isolate from her 10-year-old son and her husband.

“It’s been hectic since we reopened under level 3, it’s busy. The pressure is on us and I feel like management is so nonchalant about it. I am concerned about getting the virus because I have a weak immune system and he was in my cubicle a couple of times. We exchanged documents and money, so I am worried.”

Finance mayoral committee member Ian Nielson confirmed that a staff member notified them of his positive Covid-19 results when he called in on Wednesday.

“This was the second incident of a motor vehicle registration and licensing staff member testing positive for Covid-19 serving members of the public. Decisive action was taken immediately to protect staff and the public against risk and a City Occupational Health and Safety official was contacted to assist and provide the necessary advice. The MVRL management were advised by the City’s Occupational Health and Safety to decontaminate the areas where the affected employee had moved.”

He said no employees who were in contact with the man were instructed to self-isolate but were given the option to do so should they show any symptoms.

“It was ascertained that although there was close contact, risk was low as the staff members wore their personal protective equipment/masks.”

He said the office was reopened on the advice of the City’s Occupational Health and Safety official.

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Written by Ph

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