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Eastern Cape woman with Covid-19 symptoms detained in office

A woman who had shown signs and symptoms of Covid-19 was caught travelling in a taxi between East London and Butterworth.
A woman who had shown signs and symptoms of Covid-19 was caught travelling in a taxi between East London and Butterworth.
Image: AFP/ SIMON MAINA

Butterworth Hospital management had to be called to the Kei Bridge roadblock on Thursday afternoon after a woman who had shown symptoms of Covid-19 was caught travelling in a taxi between East London and Butterworth.

The woman, according to DispatchLIVE sources, had to be locked up in a provincial traffic department park home which is used as an office.

The other passengers were allowed to continue on their journey, according to the sources.

The park-home office and the desk used for temperature screening of the woman and other motorists were “cordoned off” by officials using police tape.

A senior officer who works at the roadblock told DispatchLIVE the woman had “appeared very sick”.

“The woman had all the symptoms of a person who is affected by this Covid-19 and now the worry is that we have  other passengers who were travelling with her. Their destination and their phone numbers and addresses were not taken. Despite them not showing signs, we are just worried,” said the officer.

The woman had to be locked up in  the office until health officials arrived, he said.

“We had no choice but to lock her and isolate her until these health officials arrive. The table that was used by officials had to be left out in the open as well.”

Other officials who were on the roadblock include police officers and health officials, including nurses.

Vehicles which are travelling without permits are turned away, according to the officer. Some people have resorted to walking across the Kei River bridge to their destinations.

“If we were not screening the travellers, the woman would have not been found. Also, children are not allowed to travel and those who are doing so are turned back,” said another officer  working at the roadblock.

“Taxis are a problem for many of us. They are travelling without permits and they pick up people who are hiking on the side of the road. This is dangerous, people should listen.”

The country now has 1,505 coronavirus cases, with six deaths reported.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula this week amended the department’s directives given to taxi drivers.

Mbalula says public transport remains one of the biggest risk areas of spreading the virus.

Initially Mbalula called for public transport to transport few passengers and operate between 5am to 8am and between 4pm and 8pm. But that has since been amended with taxis allowed to load up to 70% of passenger capacity.

Health department spokesperson Judy Ngoloyi said she would come back to DispatchLIVE with responses but none had been received at the time of writing.

Transport department spokesperson Unathi Binqose said he would attend to the DispatchLIVE’s queries but his responses had also not been received.

 


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