South Africa’s union, NEHAWU, is worried over the surge in the number of healthcare workers being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Nehawu spokesman Khaya Xaba said almost 100 workers with the coronavirus work in private hospitals.
Last week, a Durban private hospital was shut down after 66 people tested positive for COVID-19.
Five patients died from coronavirus complications in the same hospital.
It was also revealed that 15 staff tested positive for the coronavirus in a Johannesburg private hospital.
Xaba lambasted private hospitals for prioritising profits over the lives of healthcare workers at the forefront of the virus.
“We believe healthcare providers are chasing profits. While in the rush to secure profits, they fail to adhere to the standards of occupational safety acts,” he said,
“They are making mistakes and these mistakes have resulted in the infection of our heroes.”
He said the infection of medical staff would expose their family and community members to the virus.
Xaba said nurses and doctors at the Durban hospital were not provided with protective gear while treating patients with the virus.
He said actions should be taken against private hospitals failing to protect workers.
“We want to make it unequivocally clear that failure to protect workers is tantamount to murder,” he said.
“While the entire country is up in arms trying to fight the virus, the private healthcare sector has dropped the ball.” Xaba added.
He said Nehawu was in the process of meeting with different private hospital providers to ensure that workers are protected.
The union would also meet with the Department of Labour to check if the hospitals were complying with health and safety measures.