Two Limpopo doctors who were allegedly forced into quarantine by the Limpopo government after they tested positive for Covid-19 have been released after reaching an agreement with the provincial health department.
Health MEC Phophi Ramatuba allegedly accused Taryn Williams and Claire Olivier of bringing the virus into the province and said they “should have stayed where they were” even though they live there.
The two, who work in Mpumalanga, were asymptomatic and self-isolated at home where Limpopo health department staff monitored them.
WATCH | 2 doctors allegedly forced into quarantine after claim of bringing coronavirus to Limpopo
Several days after testing positive, emergency services officials arrived at their door and told them they needed to move to a hospital in Modimolle.
The two then approached the South African Medical Association (SAMA) for legal assistance.
A settlement agreement was reached on Tuesday after the Limpopo High Court ordered that legal representatives for the doctors and the MEC discuss the matter.
Since the agreement was reached, the two doctors tested negative for Covid-19.
The SAMA welcomed the doctors’ release but said it was concerned about the circumstances that led to the quarantine.
“We are delighted that these two doctors – who self-isolated according to regulations when they tested positive for Covid-19 – are now allowed to return home. However, we remain concerned about the manner in which they were treated initially, especially considering they strictly followed NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) and national government regulations once they tested positive,” said SAMA chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee.
Grateful for assistance
Coetzee accused the department of trying to create the impression in a media release that the doctors’ negative status was the reason for their release.
“This is a disingenuous move clearly aimed at framing the release of Drs Olivier and Williams as a medical issue because of their negative tests. However, the pair had to be released from the facility because of a court order, not because they have since tested negative,” said Coetzee.
A court order for costs in the matter will be determined at a future date.
The two doctors thanked the SAMA for the assistance.
“We needed someone we could rely on to help us through what was happening and you were there from the start. We are grateful for your input and legal assistance; we couldn’t have reached this outcome without you,” the doctors said in a joint communication to the SAMA.
Coetzee said it was important for the health department to provide clear guidelines for self-isolation for doctors who test positive for Covid-19 to avoid a repeat of what happened in Limpopo.
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