Medical staff in protective clothes carry a patient suspected of having the COVID-2019. Picture: AFP/HECTOR RETAMAL
Medical staff in protective clothes carry a patient suspected of having the COVID-2019. Picture: AFP/HECTOR RETAMAL

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) has withdrawn a court case against the government over shortages of protective gear for front-line health workers treating patients with Covid-19, after meeting the health minister.

SA main health workers’ union with about 250,000 members, had launched the case to try to force the government to ensure adequate supplies of vital equipment such as masks and gloves.

A global scarcity of protective equipment for nurses, doctors, porters and other health workers is a big obstacle to attempts to curb death tolls, elsewhere in Africa and on other continents.

“We have taken a decision to discontinue with the legal course of action since there is now a commitment to address our concerns,” the union said in a statement.

Among commitments from the government was that no worker would be forced or intimidated to work without proper protection, and that stocks of masks, gloves and goggles should be scrutinised to determine whether all front-line workers were catered for, Nehawu said.

A health ministry spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

SA has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa, at 1,845 with 18 deaths, but that number is expected to rise as the government embarks on a mass testing drive.

Reuters