News about the first patient testing positive for the virus in Imizamo Yethu seems to be travelling faster than the virus itself.
On Saturday April 11, the first positive case was found in IY, and news spread quickly on social media.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas confirmed that the patient was being held in a provincial quarantine facility and all the necessary contact tracing was being undertaken by the provincial Department of Health.
“This was communicated to various social media platforms, NGOs and community groups by me on Saturday evening, and I have been responding since then to numerous requests for information,” Mr Quintas said, confirming that the family remained in assisted isolation during lockdown.
He added that the patient’s identity, home address and even area within IY could not be revealed due to patient confidentiality.
However, the Sentinel News took a drive through IY yesterday and there were very little lockdown rules and regulations being followed. There were hardly any physical distancing evident with people basking in the sun, seen playing cards on street corners and children riding through the streets.
Mr Quintas said: “It is greatly disappointing to see people behaving in such a reckless manner, putting their own and the health of others at great risk.”
Numerous fines had already been issued to IY locals after the army and police were deployed there regularly, said Mr Quintas.
The Peace and Mediation Forum’s spokesperson, Warren Abrahams, said warnings have been sent to the Hout Bay community to remain vigilant, especially with regards to taxis travelling from the IY community to surrounding areas.
“There should be a stop for the lockdown and these taxis should not be allowed to travel in between areas. People were also warned not to get into full taxi’s,” he said.
Since the news broke of the positive case, Mr Abrahams said Hangberg residents were still roaming around, proving that the news had fallen on deaf ears.
“There is more SAPS and law enforcement visibility here now so I hope this will help us to understand the seriousness of Covid-19 in Hout Bay and adhere to the implemented lockdown,” he added.
Community activist Roscoe Jacobs was relieved to hear that the patient had been quarantined in a state facility and the family were also receiving the necessary support to isolate themselves from the rest of the community.
He further called on the provincial Department of Health to conduct immediate tests on all those who might have been in contact with the infected patient.
“The department needs to urgently test all those who have come into close contact with this individual as the conditions in Imizamo Yethu are not appropriate for the social distancing measures that are required to prevent the transmission of Covid-19,” Mr Jacobs said.
At the same time, he called on residents to comply with the rules and regulations around the nationwide lockdown.
“Stay at home and maintain physical distancing during the lockdown.
“To assist with this, we call for more deployment of law enforcement and the SA National Defence Force to Hout Bay to ensure that any movement is limited and only for essential workers,” Mr Jacobs said.
“In making this call, we urge the Western Cape Department of Social Development to fast-track the aforementioned relief to the poor and struggling citizens of Hout Bay to ensure they are able to remain at home during this lockdown period.”
The provincial Department of Health said statistics released will not show where patients are from and instead, encouraged all residents to be “kind and respect each other during this time”.
“We do not share this information with the public in the interests of patient privacy. We again urge members of all our communities to be kind, and to respect each other during this time,” the department’s spokesperson, Natalie Watlington, said.
Ms Watlington touched on the measures clinics in Hout Bay have introduced to fight the virus, (“Clinics coping with Covid-19”, Sentinel News, April 10), with physical distancing and limiting the number of patients inside the clinics topping the list.
In response to the increase in local transmission nationally, community screening and testing (CST) commenced in identified areas, which include Imizamo Yethu where it started off earlier this week.
“We encourage community members to allow our identifiable health workers screen them for the coronavirus by asking them some questions. If they think you might have the coronavirus, they will refer you to a testing site in a mobile unit or at a facility to be tested. Please follow their guidelines so that we can stop the spread of the coronavirus,” Ms Watlington said.
The department reminded the community about remaining indoors and to only visit the nearest health facility for emergency care.
If you have flu-like symptoms, and have come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus, call the national hotline on 0800 029 999 or the provincial hotline on 021 928 4102. Both lines are operational 24/7.