Family that attended KwaDwesi funeral linked to Covid-19 cases pleads... please test us

Members of a Port Elizabeth family who attended a funeral in KwaDwesi that has been linked to three Covid-19 cases in Nelson Mandela Bay havestill not been tested for the coronavirus despite displaying some of the symptoms
Members of a Port Elizabeth family who attended a funeral in KwaDwesi that has been linked to three Covid-19 cases in Nelson Mandela Bay havestill not been tested for the coronavirus despite displaying some of the symptoms
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Members of a Port Elizabeth family who attended a funeral in KwaDwesi that has been linked to three Covid-19 cases in Nelson Mandela Bay have still not been tested for the coronavirus despite displaying some of the symptoms.

The impoverished Zwide family, who say they do not have the airtime to call the health department, reached out to their ward councillor, who advised them to go to Livingstone Hospital to be tested.

However, the family is reluctant to do this because some of its members are elderly people who do not want to stand in queues where others may be ignoring social distancing protocols.

According to Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, 400 people who attended the funeral of the nurse three weeks ago have since been traced.

Three of them were the first residents in Bay townships to test positive for the virus.

The Zwide family of nine lives in a small four-room house.

Nosisi Mdodana, 42, said she had attended the funeral of her cousin’s wife  — only to see in the media a few weeks later that some of the mourners had tested positive.

She said family members had then contacted their ward councillor, Nqabakazi Zuma, for help in getting tested.

The Ward 22 councillor confirmed on Wednesday that the family had approached her and that she, in turn, contacted municipal officials who advised that the family should go to Livingstone Hospital for testing.

Mdodana said: “Because my father is old, we were hoping that the department could come to our house and test us.

“Our other relatives [who were at the funeral] said they have been contacted and are on some waiting list to be tested.

“Everyone in my street knows that those people are our relatives and now we’re being shunned and called the coronavirus family.” 

Gomba said those who had attended the funeral needed to inform the department and get tested quickly.

The funeral, which took place before the 21-day lockdown, was attended by mourners from Dubai, the UK and Canada.

Mdodana said: “Our friends don’t want to associate with us any more.

“My children can’t even play with their friends as people let other children into their yards but as soon as mine go over to play, they lock their doors.”

She said a nurse from Dora Nginza Hospital, who had also tested positive after the funeral, was a relative.

“My cousin said she [suspects] she contracted the virus at work but that she was not aware she was positive when she attended the funeral.

“No-one at the funeral could have possibly imagined that they were infecting each other.

“There were lots of family there and we had not seen each other in a long time, so there was a lot of catching up and a lot of laughter too,” Mdodana said.

She said that since seeing the news reports, she had become paranoid and was scared of possibly infecting her children should she be found to be positive for the virus.

“My chest has this burning sensation and my six-year-old had a fever so we don’t know if it’s the virus or the regular flu,” Mdodana said.

Her father, Phakamile, 76, said he had gone to the local clinic to get his medication and also wanted to be tested for the virus, but it was too full.

“We’re not scared of being tested but there’s no way at my old age I’m going to go and stand in a long line somewhere and possibly contract the virus in the queues because people aren’t practising social distancing,” he said.

“We want these mobile trucks to come and test us in front of our house so that people can see us testing and stop talking about us behind our backs, because they’re treating us differently now.”

Gomba said: “We traced some [of the 400 people tracked down]  to the Buffalo City municipality and the Sarah Baartman District Municipality.

“When we trace them, we screen them and testing is only done when they present symptoms.

“Out of those screened by the department, there’s only one who tested positive and that person was found in Buffalo City.”

When asked about mobile screening for the family, Gomba said they could go to the Livingstone or Provincial hospitals to be screened to determine if they should be tested.

“Even if they don’t present symptoms and feel they are fine, they must go to Livingstone and tell the nurses there that they had attended the funeral and need to be screened,” she said.

On Tuesday, Gomba said mobile testing in Nelson Mandela Bay had stopped because the testing teams were still waiting for their kits.

On Wednesday, mobile screening and testing started in KwaDwesi, Zwide, KwaLanga and Despatch.

Bay acting mayor Thsonono Buyeye said screening and testing had also  opened at the Walmer Wellness Centre, PE Central Clinic and Raymond Mhlaba Sport Centre.

He said mobile clinics would be visiting different areas of the metro in the coming days.

Gomba, who expressed concern about the growing number of cases in the  metro, said the residents were flouting the lockdown rules.

“It’s as if life is continuing as normal in Nelson Mandela Bay,” she said.

“People aren’t even concerned about the growing number of cases.

“Even now as we’re getting into mass testing, there’s no sense of urgency.”

Gomba said that as of Wednesday, the province had screened 23,053 people, with 120 of them needing testing.

“We’re encouraged by those figures.

“Out of that figure, we found 120 people we want to test who have had contact with other positive people.

“The figures are going up because the department is doing its job in testing people.  

“Again, testing does not mean you’ll be positive.”


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