Panic stations: Government to call up retired health workers, making list of all mortuaries

South Africa’s COVID-19 death toll has rocketed to 18 over the last two days, with five more deaths added to the tally yesterday. This has prompted Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize to gazette a list of new directions in the fight against COVID-19.

As the virus continues to spread, the government seems to be preparing for the worst, with the minister urging all outstanding healthcare positions to be filled within a week.

According to the gazette in section 4, “All retired health personnel, community services personnel, extended public works programme workers, Community Based Organisations and Non -Governmental Organisations may be requested to fill in positions on a temporary basis to assist in responding to the pandemic.”

It also calls on Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to source as many healthcare workers as possible.

“All health authorities in the three spheres of government should liaise with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure or relevant agencies for the purposes of sourcing expanded public works programme workers to support the fight against COVID -19.”

On a rather grim note, Mkhize also wants a list of all the mortuaries who will be able to handle additional deaths.

“All Metropolitan and District Municipalities must identify suitably authorised mortuaries with valid certificates of competence for the accommodation of all COVID -19 mortal remains and further management. All Provincial Departments of Health must identify suitable government mortuaries that will accommodate COVID -19 mortal remains and determine their capacity.”

The minister wants the list within the next 48 hours.

The gazette goes into further detail on how COVID-19-contaminated “mortal remains” should be handled.