(ANTIGUA OBSERVER) – Cash payouts promised to nurses on the frontline of the coronavirus fight are being welcomed by Nurses’ Association President Soria Dupie Winston. But she said the government had failed to address other essential areas to ensure the safety and protection of healthcare workers.
Last week the government announced that it was providing a hazard payment of $1,000 dollars to frontline medical staff and $1,500 to those involved in Covid-19 testing.
The money will be owed effective April 30, although there’s no guarantee that it will be immediately reflected in monthly salaries.
The initiative is billed as a simple way of showing appreciation to local medics during this critical time for the sector.
However, Dupie-Winston told Observer that, while money is important, nurses are still awaiting alternative living arrangements so they are not forced to return home after their shifts, increasing the risk of the virus’s spread.
To date, five medics have been infected with the potentially deadly coronavirus – four nurses and one doctor.
Last week dozens of nurses deemed high risk due to pre-existing conditions – including diabetes and hypertension – were sent on sick leave.
Sources say a number of Cuban nurses who were already on island and are said to have been exposed to a Covid-19 patient at Mount St John’s Medical Centre are also being quarantined.
The brigade of Cuban medics who arrived last month are still yet to start work.
Dupie-Winston says the shortage of nurses will undoubtedly affect healthcare services in the country.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas said while the government can do “so much” to assist nurses, residents can also play their part by actively avoiding infection.
“If no one gets sick…nurses won’t have to deal with them. They can practice social distancing requirements, hygiene protocols and staying indoors,” he said.Nicholas added that doctors and nurses were already busy caring for people with other ailments.