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'Vulnerable' townships in a tailspin after Mfuleni pupils sent home

Mitchells Plain police officers wear protective face masks while assisting a member of the public. Picture: Courtney Africa / African News Agency (ANA)

Mitchells Plain police officers wear protective face masks while assisting a member of the public. Picture: Courtney Africa / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 17, 2020


Cape Town – Townships have been sent into a

tailspin after a Mfuleni resident, employed as a domestic worker, made contact with her employer, who tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19) following a recent trip to Germany.

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Manzomthombo Secondary School in Mfuleni and Mandalay Primary near Mitchells Plain, the schools the woman’s children attend, were closed yesterday to avoid possible transmission.

The mother, who did not want to be named, said her employer’s children also tested positive. There were six more laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 16.

Manzomthombo Secondary School principal John Matiso said as soon as he was told about the contact, he let the pupils go home. “I gave the children letters to give to their parents explaining the circumstances,” he said.

The woman’s younger child and her fellow Grade 7 peers were also sent home. News of the possible transmission spread like wildfire across the province yesterday, bringing to the fore the vulnerability of densely populated areas.

Pinky Mashiane, president of United Domestic Workers of South Africa, said: “In the case of the domestic worker whose employer tested positive and has not assisted in getting her tested, she should inform us so that we open a case.”

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu yesterday directed her department to increase provision of water and sanitation in informal settlements and rural areas.

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“We find ourselves in an unfortunate situation where we are called upon to respond to this pandemic. We commit ourselves to do everything possible to respond to the urgent needs of our people, through the provision of water and sanitation as we confront the possible spread of the virus,” Sisulu said.

“We call upon everyone in the human settlements, water and sanitation sector to work with the government in responding to the coronavirus. We also appeal to residents in areas where we will be providing services to work with our officials. 

"This is a matter which requires all of us to play our role in order to succeed,” she said.

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Several other schools have reported closing, citing suspected transmissions.

Table View preschool Little Learners closed after a parent suspected that she might have had contact with a person with the virus.

Owner and principal Chantelle Dammarel said the parent would be quarantined for the next two weeks.

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Ladismith Secondary in the Klein Karoo has postponed its matric ball, which was scheduled for Thursday.

Principal Shaanta Lee said the students’ safety came first. “Due to the prohibition of gatherings, we felt it was necessary to postpone the ball and not take risks,” she said.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED), meanwhile, stuck to its guns and said schools may only close tomorrow.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer’s spokesperson, Kerry Mauchline, said: “Public schools cannot decide to close earlier than Wednesday on their own.”

Provincial Health Department spokesperson Mark van der Heever said: “All six positive tests were received from private laboratories.

“Feedback given to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases is that these six new cases, adding to the existing 10, all presented to private facilities with flu-like symptoms and a recent international travel history to various countries."

Cape Times

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