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DENOSA Student Movement statement on the increasing number of student nurses who are contracting COVID-19 during their practicals in clinical facilities

Media statement 

Wednesday, 14 October 2020  

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) National Student Movement is disappointed with the lowered guard by health institutions to protect healthcare workers, including students, as more and more students are now contracting COVID-19 with very little assistance from healthcare institutions where they are doing their practical studies.

We are saddened to announce that the infection rate among student nurses is picking up countrywide, with Northern Cape leading with no less than 10 student nurses who are currently in quarantine. What is sad is that student nurses are the most vulnerable as they don’t have medical aid since they were removed from PERSAL system into a bursary system. For many of them who have underlying chronic conditions, this could be deadly.  

Since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic on South African shores, there has been a persistent confusion between health facilities, universities and colleges on who is responsible for providing student nurses with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the clinical settings. This confusion has victimized students who contracted, and are still contracting the virus in large numbers. And they will not be compensated through COIDA because they are not on PERSAL but on a bursary system. 

What bothers DENOSA Student Movement the most is that nobody is prepared to listen to students, because we raised the same warning and red flags before the peak in the country that students would be victimized and be the so-called ‘missing middle’ in the fight against COVID-19. Furthermore, we raised that a special Covid-19 danger allowance be paid to students so that they could be able to buy their essential protective equipment themselves if there are delays in providing them such in facilities. None of that has happened. 

The rising infection among students happens at the time when there is a general relaxation in facilities in providing PPE in the same way as during the peak to healthcare workers. And by look of things, students are still marginalized. 

DENOSA Student Movement has called on its structures in provinces to be a constant nerve to management until the vulnerability of student nurses is addressed. Part of this high infection rate amongst student nurses is that in many cases they are used to fill in the gap of staff shortages in facilities, which is completely out of order. 

DENOSA Student is initiating a national campaign to bring back student nurses to PERSAL system, based on the bad experiences they have been exposed to by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

DENOSA Student Movement wishes great strength and speedy recovery to those student nurses who have contracted the virus. 

End 

Issued by DENOSA National Student Movement 

For more information, contact:

Nathaniel Mabelebele, National Chairperson

Cell: 071 684 1646 

Sphumelele Blose, National Secretary 

Cell: 079 300 4409 

Facebook: Denosa Student Movement 

Twitter: @DENOSAORG