Khayelitsha Covid-19 patient, family ‘rejected by community’
They have described the hours since her diagnosis as “highly stressful and strenuous”.
News of a confirmed case in the second-largest township in South Africa broke on Sunday, leaving the patient’s family shattered.
The patient’s cousin and family spokesperson Bomkazi Nomlala said it was unexpected tshe would contract the virus.
“She hasn’t been in contact with anyone who has travelled, at least not as far as we know.”
Nomlala said the Enkanini resident tested positive on Saturday and was sent home to self-quarantine until the department could fetch her.
“The health department came to fetch her on Sunday and she left with her 3-year-old daughter. They were taken to Khayelitsha District Hospital.
“Our biggest concern is the child because her results have not come back yet, but they are both quarantined together and she is being starved, they are not giving her food. We have had to call the department numerous times in order for her to be brought food,” she said.
According to the family, the woman was moved to Khayelitsha Day Hospital where she is receiving medical attention.
Nomlala said the community had not taken the news well.
“Her landlord didn’t take it well, as well as the neighbours. Her pictures are all over social media as if she had done something wrong and the saddest part is that we can’t do anything to help.
"Her landlord is not comfortable with having her around so has taken initiatives to get her out,” Nomlala said.
She said the community had not been as understanding as the family had hoped.
The patient’s immediate family and those she had been in contact with will be in quarantine for 14 days.
Khayelitsha Development Forum chairperson Ndithini Tyhido said they were concerned by the community’s reaction and the patient needed support and not judgement.
“We condemn any form of stigmatisation and victimisation of any person on the basis of their health,” he said.
Tyhido added the forum understood people were in shock, but this was no time to condemn anyone.
“This is something that the community needs to beat together,” he said.
Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Saturdaytheir support was requested regarding the confirmed Khayelitsha case and two contacts who had been traced, both of whom displayed symptoms of Covid-19 infection.
On Sunday, an MSF team transported the confirmed case and the two contacts exhibiting symptoms to the Khayelitsha District Hospital, where the two contacts were rigorously screened and the confirmed case was isolated.
“Together with staff from the Department of Health and City Health, an MSF team comprising two members of the health promotion team, one nurse, two drivers and two medical doctors immediately conducted contact tracing and screening in the community, finding and assessing those who had been in close contact with the affected family, and screening via questionnaire anyone else who wished to be assessed.
"Two people screened positive, describing or displaying symptoms consistent with Covid-19 infection, and they were referred for testing,” MSF said.
The provincial Health Department did not respond to questions by deadline.