Large portion of province’s cases relates to church conference attended by 5 foreign nationals from the US and Israel
Johannesburg – The Free State has become the latest province to record its first Covid-19 related death.
An 86-year-old man died on Monday at a Bloemfontein hospital, the department of health in the Free State confirmed on Tuesday.
This latest death follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Monday night that the country’s confirmed coronavirus cases had risen to 1326. He said three South Africans had died from the virus.
Free State health department spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said the 86-year-old man’s wife was also admitted to hospital and had contracted the coronavirus. He said the woman was being monitored.
Mvambi said the department was working on setting up a meeting with the family of the man as the news of his death had been posted over social media and had brought distress to the family.
The Free State’s tally of confirmed cases stands at 72. Mvambi said a large portion of these cases were related to a church conference that took place in Bloemfontein in early March.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the church conference was hosted by the Divine Restoration Church Ministries in Bloemfontein. Five foreign nationals from the US and Israel had flown into the country to attend the conference and later tested positive for the coronavirus. They had interacted with 300 people.
One of those who attended and the conference have since tested positive for the virus was ACDP Reverend leader Kenneth Meshoe and fellow MP Steve Swart.
Mvambi said the province was conducting a large screening initiative and tracing various individuals who had attended the conference.
He said they were now dealing with “contacts of contacts” as many people may have come into contact with the individuals infected with the virus and then went home and possibly infected many others.
Ramaphosa said in his televised address to the nation on Monday that the government would embark on massive screening drive across the country. A total of 10 000 field workers would be dispatched across the country to screen people and recommend testing at health facilities.
If a person tests positive, depending on their symptoms, they would be recommended to self-isolate or be admitted at a health facility, the president said.
This initiative was part of the government’s plan to curb the spread of the virus.
The country is on day five of a national 21-day lockdown which has limited people’s movement.