Mdantsane Covid-19 suspect on the run

Health officials and police raided an Mdantsane home where community members suspected a man who they believed may have Covid-19 was in hiding.
Health officials and police raided an Mdantsane home where community members suspected a man who they believed may have Covid-19 was in hiding.

A man suspected of having Covid-19 is on the loose in Mdantsane, one of SA’s  largest and most congested townships.

The man, who recently returned from a trip to the US, fled before police and health authorities stormed his Unit P home on Tuesday.

According to health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, the man was reported to the ward councillor by suspicious neighbours and a member of a ward committee.

Gomba said she immediately assembled a team, including doctors, to investigate.

“I dispatched the team, accompanied by police, to make sure no one left the house.

“Right now they are there and we are awaiting the outcomes of the raid.”

Footage of police officers and health inspectors wearing powder-blue forensic suits and surgical masks did the rounds on social media.

Gomba said: “This morning [Tuesday] I received a tip-off from the ward 24 councillor after hearing concerns about a member of the community who recently returned from a trip in America, and was coughing badly and unfortunately his family was allegedly hiding him, not wanting him exposed.”

The MEC added that the community, who knew about the man’s return from overseas, had been wondering about his whereabouts.

After hearing him cough, they contacted the councillor.

Amid concern that the community was planning to remove the man from their area themselves, Gomba warned against any such vigilantism.

“My appeal to the community is to practise restraint against engaging in that kind of behaviour.

“Do not take the law into your own hands.

“Please just continue assisting us by being the eyes and ears of the government.”

Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the department would act only after the MEC had met the investigative team while the police awaited further instructions from the health department.

Meanwhile, after public outrage over reports that the first person confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus in East London had broken self-isolation rules and roamed the streets, the government has stepped in and removed her from her Beacon Bay home.

Gomba told DispatchLIVE that the 28-year-old Mercedes-Benz employee was now quarantined in a private hospital and being monitored by state doctors.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Gomba said there was no evidence or official report to back up the claims that the patient had been roaming around.

“What we thought was proper as government is to quell the whole issue and ensure that the patient is no longer in voluntary quarantine. So last night, we agreed with the doctor hired by her employer and moved the patient to a private hospital.”

Gomba said: “We are now convinced that we won't have a patient who is going to be seen in the streets and that, to us, settles this matter.”

Gomba said a private doctor, hired by MBSA to observe the patient, had refuted claims that the woman had been roaming around.

“He said they monitored her regularly and gave her supplies. We didn't want to argue. We are sure where she is now. Our doctor also followed up and saw her in a formal quarantine.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak in SA, hoaxes and false information have given the authorities countless headaches.

An Eastern Cape woman has become the latest victim of sinister people spreading fake news.

Thulisa Hlopekazi's picture was widely circulated on social media, with scores of people falsely claiming she had tested positive for Covid-19 but had refused to be quarantined.

Some people allegedly even threatened to kill  Hlopekazi after her picture was splashed on social media and she was incorrectly identified as the first Covid-19 patient in East London.

In fact the 33-year-old has never set foot in Germany and works for the department of public works in Port Elizabeth, not Mercedes-Benz SA.

The circulation of Hlopekazi's picture has been sharply condemned by premier Oscar Mabuyane and Gomba, who both labelled it as fake news. — Additional reporting by Mkhululi Ndamase