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85% FACTORIES HAVE COVID-19+ WORKERS

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MATSAPHA - About 85 per cent of textile factories in Matsapha have recorded cases of employees testing positive for COVID-19.

The number of confirmed cases vary from one textile firm to another, but almost all of them had one or two positive cases. As a result of this new development, employers in the textile and apparel sector said in order for government to control the spread of the virus and prevent a disaster, it should ensure that their workers self-isolated after testing positive for COVID-19, but not at their flats or homes. This, they said, was because some of them shared flats and could easily spread the virus. On average, there are 17 000 textile workers with more than 15 firms in the Matsapha precinct.

The firm owners noted that the textile sector was one of the largest employer in the country and their employees were most vulnerable to contracting the virus in that they worked, walked and stayed together in most instances. It is in this regard that they have suggested that since the country’s two existing quarantine centres, especially Mavuso Trade and Exhibition Centre, were full, the police recruits’ dormitories at Matsapha Police Academy and His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) should be used to quarantine or isolate their workers.

Quarantine

“Even schools can be an option to quarantine the workers so that they don’t mingle with others who may be negative,” they added. In fact, they argued that quarantining the workers and COVID-19 patients in general, could save government millions in financial and human resources. They said if COVID-19 patients could be quarantined in government centres, it would be easy for a nurse to attend to about 20 people per day, without travelling from one homestead to another and fuel would be saved in the process. On the other hand, they said if the nurse was supposed to attend to the same number of patients in their homestead, he/she might not be successful even though he/she would be using fuel. In fact, they said in this case, more nurses and fuel, among other things, would be needed.

They said they had seen this working for other countries, like China, where the outbreak of the virus started. The textile and apparel sector employers based their argument on claims that most of their workers were staying in one-room rented flats in Matsapha and they had no one to send to the shops to buy them food and other necessities while in quarantine in their houses. As a result, they said the workers breached the COVID-19 guidelines and went to the supermarkets to buy food.

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