PRESS RELEASE: SAPTU asks South Africa to keep public health workers’ wellbeing in mind during festive season

SAPTU wishes to thank its members at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) for continuing to keep up the critical work they do on the frontline against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are concerned about the increase in recorded new cases and want to encourage South Africans to adhere to the regulations to keep us safe,” says Adv Ben van der Walt, the general secretary of SAPTU. “Our members at the NHLS are putting their lives at risk every day, and especially now during the second wave of COVID-19. Please keep their wellbeing in mind during the festive season.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa last night announced that South Africa would participate in the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility (COVAX). South Africa will hopefully receive initial vaccines to cover 10% of the population in the early part of next year. The country is also part of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team that is looking at alternative financing mechanisms to secure additional vaccines for African countries beyond COVAX.

“We mourn for the 391 health workers in the public sector who have lost their lives because of the coronavirus,” says Adv Van der Walt. “More than 38 000 public health workers tested positive for the virus, and almost 5 000 were hospitalised. SAPTU would like to recommend that medical workers, including laboratory staff, be part of the first group to receive the vaccine.”

In light of the vital service that public health workers deliver, SAPTU wants to urge the NHLS and the Department of Health to urgently agree to and sign off on the pending settlement agreement, including a COVID-19 incentive, about the 2020/2021 annual wage increases.

Issued by:                  SAPTU
Date:                           15 December 2020

Enquiries:                  Adv Ben van der Walt, General Secretary SAPTU                                           Email: