No evidence of cohorts of infected people in N Cape – MEC
WHILE almost 900 swab samples from the Northern Cape have been sent to the National Health Laboratory Services’ Covid-19 testing lab, the Department of Health has indicated that there is no evidence that there are cohorts of infected people in the Province.
In a statement issued on Friday by the MEC for Health, Mase Manopole, the department added that all Covid-19 infections in the Northern Cape originated from outside the country or in another province that has a high prevalence of Covid-19. The only exception was the local transmission of six cases in the Frances Baard District who were relatives, family friends or an employee of infected people.
“There is no evidence that there are cohorts of infected people in the Province where the virus is lurking and waiting to infect other people. The important issue is for strong vigilance amongst our clinicians and our community members to identify anyone showing signs or symptoms, and to take swab samples of those who show these,” said Manopole on Friday.
“It is also important not to overwhelm the hospitals and laboratory services with people who show no signs or symptoms – if we do this we run the risk of overloading the system so that those who really need testing do not get the results back quickly enough. This is a very fine balance and we are confident that our communities understand this.”
Manopole stated further that she was pleased with the progress made in terms of mass screening in the Province.
“To date, the Province has screened over 388 076 people for Covid-19. This consists of 21 574 in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District, 53 052 in the Namaqua District, 39 663 in the ZF Mgcawu District, 56 329 in the Frances Baard District and 217 458 in the Pixley ka Seme District.”
This process took the form of screening people at health facilities and roadblocks during the first few weeks and has now progressed to a mass screening programme in communities in all five districts in the Province.
Manopole added that the Northern Cape had sent 895 swab samples for laboratory testing by the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), which has identified a total of 16 positive Covid-19 cases in the Northern Cape.
“None of these cases have needed hospitalisation, including ventilation, and no one in the Province has died. No health worker has been infected, despite the many challenges faced across the country in obtaining all the personal protective equipment (PPE).”
Currently six of the 16 people are deemed fully recovered, and this number is expected to increase over the coming days as people reach the isolation deadline since symptoms subsided.
The 16 cases in the Province are as follows: John Taolo Gaetsewe District
currently has no positive cases; the Namaqua District
has a family of three cases, who became infected after travelling in the Western Cape; Pixley ka Seme District
has one positive case, who became infected when travelling in the Western Cape;ZF Mgcawu District
has one positive case, who became infected when travelling in the United Kingdom; and the Frances Baard District
has 11 positive cases.
Two of the cases in the Frances Baard District were a couple who travelled to the Free State and this resulted in local transfers. Separate from this are two people who participated in a golf tournament with people from the Western Cape and Free State. Lastly, there was a journalist who became infected through visitors from Germany.
Manopole assured residents that the Province had recently received 100 000 additional swab kits, which were delivered to the Northern Cape National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). “There is no shortage of swab kits in the Province and we continue to take swabs from everyone who meets the guidelines set by the NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases).”
The Northern Cape has a total of 886 beds readily available at its quarantine sites to accommodate any cases under investigation for Covid-19 who are not able to self-quarantine at home. This number will be increased to 1 360 in due course, said Manopole.
“We recommend the use of fabric masks by all members of the community and for surgical and respirator masks to be reserved for the sole use of those working in a clinical environment. These masks will minimise any infectious materials being expelled in droplets when speaking, coughing or sneezing, including Covid-19,” Manopole concluded.