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Majority of Free State patients from church conference

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Leaders and members who were tested have since been put in quarantine

THE MAJORITY of 61 patients infected in the Free State are from the church conference that had five international visitors who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

This is according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize who pointed out that amongst these were various church leaders who have since tested positive for COVID 19, thus making their own church members direct contacts. 

“These church members have had to be screened and tested. The church leaders and members who were tested have since been put in quarantine.”

“It must be noted that these confirmed cases in the Free State province are concentrated in Mangaung and this requires dedicated focus of interventions,” Mkhize added.

As the number of positive cases surged to 1 170 yesterday, Mkhize urged citizens to be vigilant, protect themselves and not unnecessarily expose themselves by making contact with a lot of people. “It is important to remain in your home, create a distance between yourself and anyone, including family members, that are unwell.”

He further highlighted some of the underlying medical diseases that make people vulnerable. These include

– HIV Positive people with a low CD4 count: This, Mkhize added, emphasised the importance of everyone to know their status, get tested and immediately start treatment should they test positive.

– Chronic Lung Diseases, including TB, Asthma and COPD

– Autoimmune Diseases of Any Kind

– Chronic Kidney Diseases

– Cancer

– Diabetes

“Other population groups that are vulnerable are smokers and dependent alcohol consumers. We encourage smokers to quit smoking and for those who drink alcohol, to do so moderately.”

The elderly population in our society is also vulnerable.

 “In KwaZulu-Natal, one of the confirmed cases is an 81-year-old female who is now in ICU and on a ventilator. She initially presented with pneumonia and was admitted and treated as such. Because of the severity of the pneumonia, she was tested for COVID-19 and was confirmed. This elderly woman lives in an old age home. As a result, all other elderly people from this old age home are regarded as being vulnerable and are being tested. Those who will test positive will then be put in isolation.”

He pointed out that there was an increase in the rate of internal transmissions. “Patients without a history of travelling abroad have been detected in many provinces.”

“All the above factors have emphasised the need to rapidly expand testing, early detection and early treatment. We are intensifying the offensive,” he said.