Employees may not refuse medical treatment 

Employees suspected of contracting Covid-19 have no right to refuse treatment or testing.

The regulations related to Covid-19 published on 18 of March 2020 make testing and treatment for Covid-19 mandatory in certain circumstances. This is difference from illnesses like HIV/AIDS, for example, for which no person may be tested for without his or her free and informed consent (except in the case of anonymous epidemiological screening programmes undertaken by authorised agencies such as the national, provincial or local health authorities).

“According to the newregulations, a person who has been confirmed as having COVID-19, or who is suspected of having COVID-19, or who has been in contact with a carrier of COVID-19, must submit to a medical examination, including the taking of a bodily sample, treatment, prophylaxis, isolation or quarantine,” say Lara Kerbelker and Justin de Wet from Webber Wentzel.

The two legal experts penned a cautionary note explaining that, If a person refuses to comply with an instruction to do the above things, they must be placed in isolation or quarantine for 48 hours pending a warrant from a magistrate.

They said it was also important to note that the regulations clearly indicate that no person is entitled to compensation for any loss or damage arising from the actions or omissions of enforcement officers under the regulations.

A number of existing drugs are being re-purposed and tested for efficacy of the potential treatment for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Preliminary work on the development of vaccines has started with the University of Cape Town (UCT), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Biovac. Progress is expected in over 18 months,” said Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande at a media briefing on Tuesday

“South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA) A is currently engaging with other sources of data and modelling groups, refining their assumptions with a view to produce an updated model of the spread of the epidemic over time by Friday,” he said.

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) has already availed R12 million and will redirect an additional R30 million.  

“It has become urgent to locally manufacture reagents for testing kits. These are currently being imported and the lockdown may threaten access to supply,” the minister said.

The Department of Science and Technology has also negotiated the repurposing of various facilities and labs to respond to the outbreak. The entities in line to assist include Biovac, Centres of Excellence in TB research, Centre of Proteomic and Genomic Research (CPGR) and Afrigen Bio.