MEC Bheki Ntuli
MEC Bheki Ntuli

MEC slams two KZN men who ignored self-quarantine restrictions after testing positive for Covid-19

By Se-Anne Rall, Kailene Pillay Time of article published Mar 26, 2020

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Ntuli, has slammed two men for allegedly ignoring orders to self-quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19.

On Wednesday, national police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo, confirmed that the men faces charges of attempted murder. 

A 52-year-old businessman was arrested late Wednesday afternoon at his Ladysmith home, while a tourist who had travelled from the Kruger National Park to St Lucia was nabbed by a tracing team and health officials and placed in quarantine.

The arrested man, who had recently returned to South Africa from a trip overseas, did not self-isolate or go for the Covid-19 test as prescribed by government regulations.

National police spokesperson, Brigadier Vish Naidoo, confirmed the charges.

During a media briefing last night, Police Minister Bheki Cele said the law would act “and very harshly” against ­people who broke the regulations.

Naidoo said the police had been informed that the businessman had come into contact with several residents in Ladysmith.

“The same man had travelled from various countries to South Africa. On his return on March 18, he tested positive for Covid-19 and was instructed to self-quarantine for at least 14 days, pending the blood results.

“However, he allegedly continued with his business and in doing so disregarded the instructions of a doctor.

“In doing so, he allegedly contravened the regulations in terms of the National Disaster Act pertaining to Covid-19,” said Naidoo.

The man was arrested and taken to a hospital where he was being treated, added Naidoo.

He said a list of 27 people who frequented the suspect’s place of business, and those with whom he had interacted at a religious gathering, were urgently being sought by the tracing team for testing.

“The matter was discussed with the senior public prosecutor for (the case) to be postponed in absentia to avoid further contamination,” Naidoo said.

In the second case, Naidoo said the tourist was on holiday in the Kruger National Park when he tested positive for Covid-19.

“He was instructed to remain in his lodge in the park. Instead, the tourist ignored the instruction and left the park and proceeded to St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal (near Mtubatuba), where he apparently interacted with an unknown number of people,” Naidoo said.

He said the Department of Health had traced the tourist to holiday accommodation in St Lucia and immediately quarantined him at a hospital.

“There is now an extensive drive by the Department of Health and police to trace those who the infected tourist came into contact with.

“The tourist has not yet been charged as he went into quarantine before the police could engage him,” Naidoo said.

SA Medical Association vice-chairperson, Dr Mvuyisa Mzukwa, said it was important for people to comply with quarantine requirements as research had shown that asymptomatic patients could transfer the virus.

“You can transfer diseases to others even if you don’t have symptoms, which is why it’s important to self-quarantine and to protect your own family by washing hands and throwing away tissues in the dustbin,” he said.

“The virus is spread by body fluids like mucus through coughing, sneezing and saliva, so when you sneeze it can go into the air,” he said.

According to the Covid-19 government regulations, refusal of medical examination, prophylaxis, treatment, isolation and quarantine is an offence.

They state that any person confirmed to be infected with the virus who does not comply with the instructions of an enforcement officer could be slapped with a fine or with imprisonment for up to six months, or to both a fine and imprisonment.

Ntuli said their behaviour must be strongly condemned. 

"A special team has been assembled to investigate these cases of attempted murder and violation of the Disaster Management Act. Through these arrests, we want to send a strong message that such irresponsible acts will not be tolerated, and we appeal to all members of the society to cooperate with the instructions of our health practitioners," he said. 

Ntuli said with the Department of Health being part of this forum, his department has identified all the quarantine sites in the province and they will be strongly monitored to avoid people escaping without being cleared by medical practitioners. 

"We have asked for review of self-quarantine especially for those tested positive. As the provincial government led by the Premier and various clusters at National level, we will be on the ground giving support to our law enforcement teams and participating in the implementation of the lock down measures," he said. 

The Mercury

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