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Directions on Additional Health Personnel Published

July 21, 2020

Department of Health

Directions on the recruitment of additional health personnel to assist in addressing, preventing and combating the spread of COVID-19 have been published.

The health department published the Directions in Government Gazette 43533.

The Directions stipulate that additional health personnel must be deployed in strategic areas such as points of entry, surveillance, case investigation, laboratory service, mortuaries, environmental health and quarantine sites.

The Directions also indicate that the “recruitment process in relation to critical COVID-19 related posts must be shortened by advertising a post and effecting appointments within a period of a week, on condition that an appointment may be set aside depending on the outcome of personnel suitability checks and verification processes”.

They add that all health personnel employed in both the public and private sector must be trained on COVID-19 for the effective and efficient management of the COVID-19 outbreak including the management of mortal remains.

The Directions also focus on measures when a person passes on at home, disposal of COVID-19 mortal remains, person exiting and entering the republic, the criteria for self-quarantine and self-isolation, quarantine of aircraft crew: international travel, designation of quarantine facilities, medical evacuation through air or land points of entry, cargo and crew vessels, fishing vessels, maritime safety precautions, medical evacuations from vessels, local air travel and control measures for public places.

The Directions came into effect on the date of publication.

Meanwhile, the recommended isolation period for patients with confirmed Covid-19 infection has been reduced from 14 to 10 days.

The health minister, Zweli Mkhize, declared in a statement that the recommendation is based on evidence that most patients with a mild Covid-19 infection continue to shed the virus from their upper airways for approximately 7-12 days.

“Furthermore, the presence of detectable virus when testing does not necessarily imply infectiousness. It has been proven that in mild cases, virus cultures are generally only positive for 8-9 days after symptom onset.”

However, for patients with severe disease requiring hospitalization, the minister recommended that such patients be de-isolated 10 days after clinical stability has been achieved, rather than 10 days after symptom onset.

Asymptomatic patients should remain in isolation for a period of 10 days following the date of their positive results.

In another statement, the minister called on South Africans to focus on adhering to recommendations pertaining to non-pharmaceutical interventions.

“We are extremely concerned that fatigue seems to have set in and South Africans are letting down their guard at a time when the spread of infection is surging.”

The minister called on South Africans to remain focused and disciplined and take non-pharmaceutical interventions seriously.

As regards alcohol abuse, the portfolio committee on health has welcomed the report by a broad group of scientists and researchers on the effects of alcohol on South Africa’s health services.

The committee holds the view that “South Africa cannot continue to debate the gross domestic product (GDP) benefits of alcohol sales and not talk about the costs of cleaning up after alcohol has been abused”.

The committee is to formulate an action plan on the basis of the Medical Research Council report and advice by a group of academics, researchers and policy specialists on steps to curb the abuse of alcohol in South Africa.