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NC couple test positive

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“All those who came into contact with the couple, come forward so that we can subject them to checks and make sure they self-isolate and they don’t pose any danger to the community”.

TWO CASES of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) have been confirmed in the Northern Cape, a couple from Hartswater who attended a church conference in Bloemfontein earlier this month.

At a press briefing yesterday, the Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul, described the couple as “displaying patriotism of the higher order” by being proactive once they heard that positive cases were reported by five other people attending the Bloemfontein church conference.

“For this we pay them homage and respect,” Saul said. “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. We appreciate this patriotism,” he said.

Saul stated that the couple self-isolated as soon as their suspicions were raised. “They have been visited by the Department of Health’s rapid response team and are now in quarantine at home where they pose no risk to the community.

“We need to emphasise that they are in self-isolation at home and they pose no risk to the community.

He added that they were currently under observation and their condition is not life-threatening.

“We have outreach teams currently doing contact tracing in the Province by the municipality (Phokwane) and we urge community members to co-operate with the team, who are working on the ground to ensure that we trace each and every individual that could possibly have come into contact with the couple.”

Saul appealed to the community of Phokwane “that all those who came into contact with the couple, to come forward so that we can subject them to checks and make sure they self-isolate and they don’t pose any danger to the community”.

It could not be confirmed yesterday if the couple have children.

Saul stated further that between February 21 and March 21, 17 patients were tested in the Province and all of them tested negative.

“The age of those tested ranged from between four years to 47 years old. Since then, another 10 patients have been tested and we are still awaiting those results.”

He added that the results were expected today or tomorrow.

“During this period we encourage members of the community to continue to observe the necessary measures to prevent Covid 19.”

He further encouraged people to “try stay indoors and not attend gatherings like church gatherings”.

“Our facilities remain ready to provide medical treatment to infected patients. People must not panic but at all times be alert and vigilant.”

Saul stated that, according to the reports he had received, none of the 10 people whose results were currently being awaited were in a serious condition or in hospital. “These are just patients who have exhibited some of the symptoms. None of them are in hospital and are in self-isolation at home.”

He added that the Northern Cape Department of Health, together with the Free State Health Department, was trying to contact all the people who attended the conference in Bloemfontein, including possible local people. “We urge them to follow in the footsteps of the Hartswater couple and to come forward and have themselves tested and to self-isolate.”

The number of positive cases in South Africa jumped by 47% to 402 confirmed cases yesterday – an increase of 128 overnight.

The two new cases in the Northern Cape are the Province’s first confirmed cases. There are now confirmed cases in all nine provinces, with the North West also recording its first four cases.

Five people, all overseas visitors, who attended the Bloemfontein church gathering were the first to test positive.

The five are tourists – two from Texas in the United States, two from Israel and one from France – who arrived in South Africa between March 9 to 11 to attend the church gathering, which attracted over 200 people.

Health Minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize said yesterday that his department would engage the public to give further details and explanations on the latest results, including the significant rise, the ongoing testing processes and each province’s progress on contact tracing efforts.

“It will be noted in the provincial and age breakdown that there are areas that are listed as unknown. This is information that the NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) is still collating and verifying. Thereafter the graphs will be updated accordingly. Our priority is for provinces to be alerted of the new confirmed cases so that immediate contact can be made with the new patients and ensure that contact tracing starts.”

The five tourists, who were the first to test positive in the Free State, arrived on March 9 and stayed until March 11. “Our concern is that while they were there they developed symptoms. They have been quarantined in the bed and breakfast where they were staying. Their tests all came back positive,” Mkhize said at the time.

“Our challenge now is to find the people who attended church with them. Some will have to be tested immediately and others we will just keep an eye on. We have discussed with the provincial government that the numbers of tracing teams must be reinforced. We have called on SA Red Cross and they have sent 285 volunteers who will help with contact tracing.

“They must be screened, tested and quarantined. We are appealing to the members of the church to help the screening teams to identify others. We have dispatched a senior expert from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases to come and reinforce this effort. A mobile unit from the national health laboratory service is also coming to help us with the testing.

Yesterday’ provincial and age-group breakdown was as follows:

Eastern Cape 2

Free State 13

Gauteng 207

KwaZulu-Natal 60

Limpopo 4

Mpumalanga 9

North West 4

Western Cape 100

Northern Cape 2

Unknown 1

Grand Total 402

Age Group: Positive:

Unknown 129

1-10years 9

11-20years 6

21-30years 52

31-40years 69

41-50years 42

51-60years 63

61-70years 20

71-80years 11

81-90years 1

Grand Total 402