Province scrambles after second Eastern Cape Covid-19 case confirmed
The Eastern Cape government is implementing a series of stringent new measures to prevent tourists from spreading the coronavirus in the province.
This comes after a German tourist, who is part of a tour group at Chintsa's Crawford's Beach Lodge, tested positive for the virus.
The group arrived at the resort on Friday night but on Saturday night, the infected tourist received a call to say that he had tested positive for the virus.
The provincial health department is “baffled” at how the tourist was even allowed to travel, since he had already reported symptoms in KwaZulu-Natal.
The man is in isolation in his room at the resort, according to resort owner Mark Crawford.
The remainder of the 11-strong tour group and four other South African guests are under quarantine.
“Tour guides did some translation for them. They would have been in and about some of our employees for a bit. There would have been some kind of contact but not major contact,” Crawford said.
Crawford said they became aware of the case after the tourists informed them.
“The department of health took over and controlled everything. They have given people educational stuff (pamphlets) and instructions. We did offer the lodge as a place for high risk employees to be quarantined but the health department said they could go home and be in isolation. They gave them educational materials and instructions,” he said.
“We know each person was treated differently according to their department and exposure. They have been given a checklist to monitor their health at home,” he said.
Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba has met with premier Oscar Mabuyane to discuss the “lockdown” on tourists.
Mabuyane told DispatchLIVE that as from Monday screening would be ramped up at entry points to the province, with health workers working in conjunction with the police.
Provincial authorities would also keep a close eye on tourists already in the province. The provincial government was busy establishing who these individuals and groups were.
“We need to detect any problems early enough. As from tomorrow (Monday) police will be in full swing working with health officials,” the premier said.
Mabuyane said he had spoken to the German ambassador to SA and discussed the German tourist's situation.
“We agreed with the German ambassador that we acted correctly ... we acted within the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms and standards. Where these cases are mushrooming let's isolate, quarantine and treat,” he added.
He said he had been informed that employees of the resort were released after the coronavirus case was reported.
He was not sure whether the employees had been in contact with the tourists.
Gomba said she did not know why the tourist, who'd left Pietermaritzburg where he was tested, had been allowed to travel as he had been showing flu-like symptoms.
She was not sure whether the group had come through OR Tambo or King Shaka international airports and whether they had been screened on entering the country.
“What we know is that the tour group travelled to KwaZulu-Natal and they happened to be in Pietermaritzburg and we are informed that the patient did have some complications and tests were done. But how the patient was allow to travel again still baffles us,” she said.
Gomba said the patient should have waited for 48 hours for the results before travelling further.
“If a person takes a test, that person must be isolated waiting for those results. We are finding it strange that the tourist was allowed to travel ... we were informed they were going to Tsitsikamma. There could be many of them infected,” she said.
DispatchLIVE visited Chintsa early on Sunday. A police vehicle with two officers was stationed at the lodge's gates, preventing anyone from entering or leaving.
A few motorists visited the resort to see what was happening, but were turned away by police.
Two employees who were walking outside the gates told DispatchLIVE they were instructed not to come to work.
Jason Gladwin said he was not at work when the tourists arrived at the resort.
“We were lucky we were not there but I am sure the place is doing everything possible to work with health officials to make sure this is handled professionally,” he said.
The German tourist is the second coronavirus case in the province. On Saturday, a 28-year-old woman who works for Mercedes-Benz in East London was confirmed as being the first by the health department.
Mercedes-Benz has not closed its plant in the city as “the employee did not return to the manufacturing operations and has not been in contact with other employees of the company since returning from Germany,” the company said in a statement.
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