A man reacts as a heath worker to collect a sample for coronavirus testing during the screening and testing campaign aimed to combat the spread of Covid-19 at Tembisa township. File picture: Themba Hadebe /AP / Africa News Agency (ANA).
A man reacts as a heath worker to collect a sample for coronavirus testing during the screening and testing campaign aimed to combat the spread of Covid-19 at Tembisa township. File picture: Themba Hadebe /AP / Africa News Agency (ANA).

Ekurhuleni is Gauteng's new Covid-19 hot spot

By Manyane Manyane Time of article published May 24, 2020

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Johannesburg - This week Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced that Ekurhuleni is the new Covid-19 hot spot in Gauteng, but residents concerned about the spread of the virus said they are forced to break lockdown regulations to go out and fend for themselves.

Makhura said Ekurhuleni had the second-highest number of cases and deaths in the province after Joburg.

As of Thursday, of the 2453 cases and 27 deaths in Gauteng, Joburg had 1 273 cases and 13 deaths while Ekurhuleni had 551 infections and eight deaths. Last month, the City of Ekurhuleni closed a clinic in Duduza, Nigel after a nurse tested positive for Covid-19. Vosloorus resident Oupa Thithi, 36, said he was scared for his health, but he couldn’t comply with the lockdown regulations as he needed to find a job to support his family.

“This is a difficult time for everyone who lives in this area.

“It’s getting more scary because some still have to go out in the streets because we have no food. What are we going to eat if we stay indoors the whole day? The spread means people are desperate to go out and find ways to survive.”

Thapelo Laka said while he understood that poverty forced people to be on the streets, he believed the government needed to run more campaigns about the pandemic.

“I am scared that this virus is invisible and people don’t know how it spreads. I heard of some cases in Katlehong. I think instead of opening schools, the government should run a campaign and educate people about this virus,” he said.

According to Makhura’s presentation, Ekurhuleni North 1, which contained areas such as Kempton Park, Tembisa and Olifantsfontein, reported 171 cases. Ekurhuleni North 2, which includes areas such as Bedfordview, Boksburg and Edenvale, recorded 119.

The areas that fall under Ekurhuleni South 1, such as Alberton, Vosloorus and Germiston, had 106 cases.

Ekurhuleni spokesperson Themba Gadebe referred questions to the Gauteng government.

“When it comes to Covid-19, there’s a communication protocol.

“These findings are made by the Gauteng government and they are the best to respond.”

On Thursday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced there were 19137 cases and 369 deaths countrywide.

This is an increase of 1134 cases reported on Wednesday, when the country recorded 803 new infections.

The highest daily number of 1160 new infections was recorded last Sunday.

Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said Ekurhuleni cases were a result of the economic activities happening in the area.

“As part of the economic corridor of Gauteng province, the district has many industries, airports and residential areas. It is a densely populated district. The cumulative number of cases in the district (recovered and active) were as a result of aggressive screening and testing in communities, door to door, clinics, hospitals, quarantine sites and in businesses and factories that were functioning in the past few months.

“Where more people gather, in close quarters, infection is bound to spread. The district was able to identify a lot more cases as a result of targeted outbreak and public health response strategies over the past two months.

“As the lockdown restrictions ease and normal activities resume, it is anticipated the number of cases will start increasing with more outbreaks in factories, shopping centres and so on,” warned Kekana, adding that the province and the district would continue to monitor the trends in numbers of cases over the coming weeks.

“In addition to the outbreak response, the district also has a public health response, all of which are constantly being reviewed and updated based on changes on the ground.

“These responses entail working closely with the Department of Labour to ensure district health facilities (public and private), businesses and factories are compliant to occupational health and safety guidelines.

“It will include greater health education of communities to encourage infection control measures. Community health workers will continue to visit allocated households to encourage these practices as well as early diagnosis and adherence to treatment.

“District health facilities are mostly ready and continue to provide health services to the residents of Ekurhuleni.

“The district is continuing to intensify its screening and testing efforts in hot spots, public areas such as taxi ranks and shopping centres. The next few months will not be easy and there will be many challenges, but together with broader civil society and other sectors, the district hopes to minimise the health impact of Covid-19 on people’s lives,” she said.

Sunday Independent

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