'SANDF organising to fetch masks in China for SA medical personnel'
The South African Medical Association (Sama) has noted with concern reports from members in the public sector of a shortage or complete lack of personal protective gear to safeguard them from infection while dealing with Covid-19.
Africa Melane gets more detail from Sama chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee.
She points out that this problem is not unique to South Africa - medical workers across the world are facing the same shortage.
However, Dr Coetzee also reports some good news: she heard on Saturday morning that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is in the process of arranging to go to China to collect protective gear including face masks.
Local business is also stepping in to help.
It's also now trying to supply the private [hospital] sector as well as the public sector with as much gear as they have in stock to help us to overcome this problem.Dr Angelique Coetzee, Chair - South African Medical Association
She says Sama's big concern at this point is the people at first point of contact at clinics and hospital casualty who are nurses and also inexperienced "intern doctors".
It is easy for us with 30 years [experience] to notice who's ill and who's not really ill and know what to do, but if you are very new in this situation of treating patients on your own, it can become a huge problem.Dr Angelique Coetzee, Chair - South African Medical Association
We have now advised our members if there's no gear, their first priority will be to make sure that they are safe themselves because if they're not safe and they get sick we're going to lose some of the working force. On top of that, they go home and they take it to their families.Dr Angelique Coetzee, Chair - South African Medical Association
She details the procedure of testing, done by lab assistants who will have the correct protective gear.
Dr Coetzee also explains the different levels of protection required. ICU staffers she says, should be and are equipped with the full Hazmat outfit, while frontline medical personnel should have at least gloves and a mask.
If you don't have a lot of protective gear at least you have to make sure you've got gloves and at least a mask... That patient must be in and out of your consulting room in five to ten minutes... If a patient is mildly infected they cannot in that short time expel a lot of virus particles to the health care personnel sitting there.Dr Angelique Coetzee, Chair - South African Medical Association
For ICU staffers: Hazmat gear - the chute that they wear and the facial mask and the gloves; they look like they're going into space.Dr Angelique Coetzee, Chair - South African Medical Association
Listen to the complete conversation below:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'SANDF organising to fetch masks in China for SA medical personnel'
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