…as staffers decry management’s failure to disclose names of persons who contracted the virus
Staffers at one of the branches of the South African chain store supermarkets Shoprite have decried lack of information especially at the wake of the raging surge of the Covid-19 pandemic which has hit the store’s Maseru mall branch.
Newsday has learnt that the store was hit by a number of positive cases of covid-19 after a number of staffers had been tested after showing with symptoms of the virus.
The workers who spoke to Newsday on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, told this publication that they are worried about the kind of treatment meted against them by their employer especially the issue of dearth of information on the case of the deadly Covid-19 which they are aware is killing people in scores.
“We are living in fear for our lives here at Shoprite, our bosses are basically subjecting us information blackout among other acts of oppression they are subjecting us to. We were only called by the store’s management who told us that some of us tested positive to the deadly Covid-19 virus hence we were encouraged to up our self-protection game, but was about it.
“No one bothers to tell us anything here, so we have to live in fear, fear of dying from Covid-19, or from death by unemployment if we dare say a word in protest or continue to probe as to whom of our colleagues has contracted the deadly virus” said the source worried.
The workers said that everything has continued as before and nothing has been done except when they were assembled and told that “…we have cases since of our staffers tested positive It has been alleged that the Shoprite in Maseru Mall has recorded confirmed cases of Covid-19 but nothing was done by the management.
“We expected the management to at least have the courtesy to fumigate the store now that they do not want to tell us who are sick, we just know that there are about six people whose results came out positive. Unfortunately, the more they stretch the information blackout the rumour mill will go on overdrive. For instance, there already rumours about one of the sick people having died. They are creating a very unconducive environment for us to work in as we have now begun suspecting each other because we do not know who it is that’s being talked about,” said another.
Meanwhile, approached for a comment on the matter as well as what ought to be in such circumstances, the Communications and Publicity Manager at the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC), who is also the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health, ‘Mateboho Mosebekoa indicated that there are operational protocols that need to be observed once an organization realizes that some of its staffers have contracted the virus, which do not necessarily go to having the store closed while fumigation ensues.
“Only the affected place or office can be closed while disinfecting the place goes on. People working in the affected area are the ones who may then have to be tested and a robust contact-tracing carried out in order to know who might have been in contact with those who test positive. Then quarantine would then be for the affected while others will continue with work,” she said.
She indicated that, the affected company or organization has a responsibility to also report the matter to the District Health Management Team (DHMT) for further guidance. “According to the rules and regulations the organization does not have to completely close but should make sure to follow required measures to make the workplace safe to be,” she said.
Meanwhile, on a visit to the store, Newsday was given the run-around with the unnamed branch manager said to be out on other assignments whereby a stand-in official who also refused to be named, did not refute the claim but rather indicated that she was in no position to discuss such issues with the media.