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Congregants urged to come forward

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A Northern Cape couple from Hartswater, who also attended the conference, are the Province’s only two positive coronavirus cases

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has called on congregants who attended The Divine Restoration Church Ministries church conference in the Free State earlier this month to present themselves to the provincial Health Department in a bid to trace the spread of Covid-19.

The call comes after five international travellers who attended the conference from the 9th to the 14th of March 2020 tested positive for the coronavirus.

A Northern Cape couple from Hartswater, who also attended the conference, are the Province’s only two positive coronavirus cases.

Northern Cape Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, said yesterday that the provincial Department of Health was working with its Free State counterpart to trace those who attended the religious conference, including possible local people.

He hailed the Hartswater couple, a pastor and his wife, for being proactive once they heard that positive cases were reported by others attending the church event. “As soon as they heard the news, they self-isolated and subjected themselves to tests. They also went public on social media in an attempt to protect other members of the community. This is patriotism of the highest order,” Saul said.

Mkhize made the call on other congregants to also come forward at an inter-ministerial briefing yesterday on government’s interventions to fight the spread of Covid-19.

During the briefing, the minister also announced that as of yesterday South Africa had 554 confirmed cases of Covid-19. This is an increase of 152 new cases from Monday’s announcement. The Northern Cape still has only the two positive cases.

In a search to track down the patients, the minister announced the name of the church, emphasising that this had to be done to ensure that potential cases are traced and tested.

While there is an ethical obligation not to disclose patient information, Mkhize said with the outbreak of the virus in the country, government would make use of empowering legislation to ensure effective contact tracing.

“We would like to request all those who were part of that gathering to come forth and contact the Department of Health in the Free State so that they can be assisted and we can therefore test them.

“We really want to make this as a public call. The regulations really do allow us at a certain point that if an individual does not come forth and has been a contact and we think his situation might pose a risk, we can actually publish the name,” he said.