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vol.110 issue6Transmission of respiratory viruses when using public ground transport: A rapid review to inform public health recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic author indexsubject indexarticles search
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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


DHAI, A; VELLER, M; BALLOT, D  and  MOKHACHANE, M. Pandemics, professionalism and the duty of care: Concerns from the coalface. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2020, vol.110, n.6, pp.450-452. ISSN 2078-5135.

It is likely that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic will affect a large part of the world's population and will last for several years. Many critical ethical issues have arisen in the healthcare context. While response from healthcare professionals to participating in the care of patients in the era of COVID-19 has generally been positive, there have also been disturbing experiences on the ground. The practice of medicine is a social contract with humanity. Challenges have arisen because the patient is both a victim and a vector of the coronavirus. All humans should have a natural instinct to care for those in need. Ethically and legally, healthcare professionals cannot be expected to assume a significant and unreasonable risk of harm. While fear is understandable, altruism and interest in serving the sick exemplify the value of solidarity. Social harms like stigmatisation and discrimination can occur. Concerns have been raised regarding protection of privacy and respect for rights of infected individuals. In the era of COVID-19, fear, misinformation and a detachment from one's calling put professionalism strongly to the test.

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