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Virus panic hits city

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“The person adhered strictly to the requirements of the self-quarantine by wearing a surgical mask to protect his immediate family and minimise the risk of transmission”

CALM has returned after pandemonium broke out in Greenpoint on Monday night when local residents accused a Chinese national who lives in the area of having contracted the Covid-19 virus.

This after the man apparently went on a trip to China and returned.

The man had to be rushed to the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital by ambulance and a heavy police presence was deployed to the suburb after community members accused him of being a carrier of the coronavirus.

According to the Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson, Lebogang Majaha, the man was merely following instructions given to him at the port of entry after he returned to the country.

“The Northern Cape MEC for Health, Mase Manopole, today wishes to allay fears in the community. The person in question doesn’t show any symptoms of the disease Covid-19, or any other illness, upon examination at the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital (RMSH). The person in question has been screened through the ports of entry in both the country he departed from as well as in our country. He was advised to practice self-quarantine at home and to report to a health facility should any symptoms related to the disease caused by the coronavirus appear. The person adhered strictly to the requirements of the self-quarantine by wearing a surgical mask to protect his immediate family and minimise the risk of transmission,” said Majaha.

He added that although the man tested negative for the coronavirus, he will be kept at the hospital to ensure his safety.

“The person is currently asymptomatic and was seen at the RMSH and declared safe to the community for self-quarantine and will be constantly monitored for a period of 14 days. After 14 days, tests will be done to determine his status. He is currently being kept at the hospital for the sole reason of protecting him from any potential aggression. MEC Manopole will engage further with the Greenpoint community on March 11, 2020 (today),” he said.

According to information, the man returned from China about six days ago. Panic erupted after he was apparently spotted wearing the mask inside his home.

Majaha urged residents to be calm and not sensationalise the matter.

“We have also noted a series of fake news circulating on social media platforms by perpetrators who seek to create unnecessary panic across the Province. As a community, we often use humour to help us to cope during adversity. It’s one of our strengths. Let’s remember that even as we laugh, we should be cautious not to spread fake news, or insensitive or prejudiced views, about the coronavirus. The MEC appeals to members of the community not to share fake news or rumours and to rather verify such information by calling the National Covid-19 Hotline on 0800 029 999,” he said.

Ward 22 councillor Norman Maditse said the man had to be rushed to RMSH by ambulance and under police protection after residents became unruly.

“The residents became angry and were demanding that the man be removed from the community. There were rumours that the man and his parents were wearing masks inside the shop they own. That is what sparked the fears of the community. These were merely rumours as the man was healthy when I saw him,” said Maditse.

He pointed out that the man had tested negative for the coronavirus.

“I followed the ambulance in my car and the parents of the man drove in their bakkie. They were very worried about their son and the incident. After we arrived at the hospital, we were all issued with masks as a precaution and the man was admitted. We could not follow him further into the hospital and we suspect that he was placed in isolation. The results have returned negative.”

Many stores in the city were yesterday totally sold out of hand sanitiser and masks.

Stores indicated that they had increased their stock orders of hand sanitiser, hand wash and wipes but were sold out within minutes.

A Chinese store owner in the city indicated that he has not suffered any prejudice since the announcement of the first patient in the country.