Woolworths store reopens after four workers test positive

Health officials address Shoprite employees at the Ziyabuya shopping centre in KwaDwesi on Monday Image: NAZIZIPHIWO BUSO
Port Elizabeth’s Access Park Woolworths food store reopened its doors on Monday after four workers tested positive for Covid-19.

The store — just off Buffelsfontein Road —  temporarily closed its doors at the weekend, along with a Shoprite outlet in Humansdorp.

And, though KwaDwesi’s Shoprite was also closed on Monday, a statement from the retail giant said Covid-19 cases had been confirmed only at Shoprite outlets in Humansdorp and Cape Town.

“When an employee from one of our stores tests positive for Covid-19, the store is closed immediately and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the department of health is informed,” the Shoprite statement said.

“A professional decontamination company is brought in to sanitise and deep-clean the store and the store will be reopened in consultation with the provincial department of health.”

A screening programme would commence, supported by the company’s mobile clinic, the statement said.

“This is immediately put into place and those staff members who had close contact with the infected person are required to self-quarantine for 14 days,” it added.

A visit to the Shoprite KwaDwesi store on Monday showed about 50 employees lining up to be screened by health officials after a coronavirus-related protest at the weekend.

An employee, who declined to be named, asked the health officials if the store’s staff would be tested.

“We can’t go back to work not knowing our health status,” she said.

However, a city health official who addressed the workers said the lack of knowledge about the virus was causing unnecessary panic.

He said an employee from the store who had tested positive was recovering at home.

“In the first five to seven days you will have certain symptoms — that is why you are being screened.

“You also need to bear in mind that you have to be in direct contact with someone who has the coronavirus in order for it to be transmitted.

“You will not get it just by them just looking at you. If they cough or sneeze on you, only then are you at risk of being ill,” the official said.

However, a number of employees said they were not satisfied with the screening process.

The official then went on to explain in depth how the virus was transmitted.

On Monday night, Woolworths corporate communication head Kirsten Hewett confirmed that a fourth worker at the Access Park store had tested positive for Covid-19.

“We can confirm that we have received notification that another team member from our Access Park store has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“They are currently in isolation at home, recuperating,” Hewett said.

Earlier, Hewett said the store had undergone a deep-clean at the weekend.

“We completed another forensic deep-clean of the store over the weekend and have brought in a new team to support the store, so it is now open for trade,” Hewett said.

The first employee at the store tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. This was followed by a second staffer, who tested positive on Friday.

Then at the weekend, a cleaner hired by Woolworths from a professional cleaning service also tested positive for Covid-19.

Some of the employees were at various testing points in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday to check their own status.

When The Herald visited the store, a worker said: “I am not from this store. We were all called in from other Woolworths shops around Port Elizabeth.”

There were about four tills open, with sanitiser bottles at each paypoint.


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