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E Cape patient zero roams complex freely

Image: AFP/ SIMON MAINA

An East London woman who has tested positive for the coronavirus has roamed around her Beacon Bay housing complex “carefree”, according to a neighbour.

The actions of the Mercedes-Benz employee, 28, who is supposed to be self-isolating after being confirmed as the Eastern Cape's first case, drew a stinging rebuke from health MEC Sindiswa Gomba at a press briefing  on Monday.   

Gomba said: “[She] places people at unnecessary risk and as such, we want to call on law enforcement agencies to deal decisively with anyone found to be in contravention of the national state of disaster regulations that have been gazetted.

“Our view is very clear: her rights as a citizen cannot override the rights of all citizens and laws of the land.”

Shortly after the briefing, a person who lives in the same complex as the woman told DispatchLIVE that her behaviour had caused panic among other residents.

 “This person has been confronted by other tenants as they are worried about what she’s doing. We are using the same entrance to the complex and what if we contract this (coronavirus)?” she asked.

She said she was worried about other residents and children.

“Action should be taken against her and she should isolate herself. Why is she even here in these flats? She should be taken into a hospital or something.”

DispatchLIVE was unable to get contact details for the woman.

Health department official Dr Nozipho Jaxa told DispatchLIVE that the department had been informed by St Dominic's Hospital that the woman was still “self-quarantining at home”.

“She's not our patient as a public sector entity, but because we're working together I've told the private sector (hospital) it's in her best interest and the public's interest for her to be isolated in a facility,” Jaxa said.

“[The hospital] is having a discussion on their side on how best to do that. If the people are unhappy where she is staying, we do not want to cause discomfort to the people.”

She said she would recommend to the MEC to go to the complex to address residents.

Life Healthcare told DispatchLIVE the group was “not aware that any positive person has been treated differently from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases guidelines or broken self-isolation”.

“Individuals who visit one of our hospital emergency units with symptoms, and who meet the NICD case criteria for testing, will be tested for the virus. Alternatively, a general practitioner may refer a patient to an independent pathology laboratory for testing.

“The emergency unit doctor or general practitioner will send the patient home for self-isolation until the test results are received and then contact the patient with the results,” said Dr Charl van Loggerenberg, the group's general manager for emergency medicine.

At the press briefing Gomba gave an update on the German tour group quarantined at Crawfords Beach Lodge in Chintsa. One member of the group has tested positive for the virus.  

Gomba said the group had travelled to the Western Cape, “criss-crossed it” and then travelled to KwaZulu-Natal before arriving in Chintsa on Friday.

“We have identified a disturbing trend of tourists being bussed to B&Bs in the province. As such we have demanded that 11 German tourists who travelled from KZN and booked in at Chintsa over the weekend be placed under quarantine.”

The MEC ordered everyone at the lodge, including staff, to be isolated for two weeks from Monday. Health department officials were testing staff for the virus.

“The quarantine period is 14 days. Our 14 days starts as we speak.”

She said premier Oscar Mabuyane had initiated talks with Germany's SA diplomat, Martin Schäfer, over evacuating  the tourists.

“The only thing that can happen is for them to get out of our province in an agreeable manner or remain quarantined here until we are assured they are all well. We are awaiting the premier's interactions with the German ambassador,” Gomba said.

The provincial government is encouraging a  travel ban on people from high-risk countries. These include Germany, US, Iran, South Korea, United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, China, France and Italy.

Finance, economic affairs and tourism MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said: “Visitors from the high-risk countries should no longer be accepted by the Eastern Cape tourism sector. The travel ban also includes travellers from medium-risk countries like Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore, which will be subject to intense health screening.

“It is against this background that I am requesting the Eastern Cape tourism sector not to take bookings from visitors from high-risk countries,” said Mvoko.


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