Kliprand in quarantine after 12% of the population test positive for Covid-19 in two days
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FOR the past five days, a tiny town on the West Coast has been in quarantine in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19 after 12% of the population tested positive within the week.
Kliprand, a small town in the Matzikama municipality with a population of 250 residents and 63 households, has become a ghost town with shops, the town’s one school and soup kitchen shut after an outbreak.
The Western Cape Department of Health said of the 113 tests conducted this week, 30 came back positive. Vaccinations scheduled to take place on Thursday were also postponed as a precautionary measure.
Co-ordinator of the Covid-19 Task Team from the Matzikama Municipality, Rubin Saul said the first group of 14 tested positive on Tuesday followed by 16 others on Thursday which led to the decision to put the entire area in quarantine.
“We also recorded three deaths in the area the previous week, a lady under 35 and two elderly people who were over 50. All three had comorbidities,” he said.
“We had three children who attended a boarding school in a neighbouring town return home to isolate after testing positive. And another four people were placed in a quarantine facility in Koekenaap because they couldn’t isolate themselves properly at home.
“The decision to quarantine the town was taken in consultation with key stakeholders, community leaders and the department on Tuesday after the first batch of positive cases.
“The major challenge was that people were indoors, the rule being nobody is to go outside their yards so people had no access to what they needed. The town’s major economic activity is agriculture and when all of that halted it meant that a need for supplies emerged.
“What we did was to take donations and transport them to the community which supplied every household with basic necessities.”
Petro Oktober, a minister at the United Reform Church in Vredendal, was among a group of donors who visited the area on Friday to hand out food and medical supplies to residents.
“We were alerted to the dire situation by the one person in the community who has access to the internet, being the school principal. We gathered food supplies, medical supplies with the help of local businesses, and community members who came together to give what they could to a community in need,” he said.
“The mood in the area is very depressed, you see people sitting outside in their yards looking like they have the weight of the world on them. The silence and empty streets is also very telling for a community that is isolated from each other and from the rest of the outside world. Their nearest town is Vredendal which is a two-and-half hours journey on a gravel road, which is very bad.”
“They are traumatised, there is a lot of frustration and panic about their lives and future given how three people have already died in a short period of time.”
Spokesperson for the department of health in the West Coast District Leensie Lotter said 114 Covid-19 tests conducted this week yielded 30 positive results.
“Western Cape Government Health did not instruct that schools and shops must close, this was a voluntary decision by people who were under investigation and in isolation as a precaution to stop the possible spread of the virus,” she said.
“Of all 30 current cases, none are acute or in need of hospitalisation. The management team is consistently monitoring the situation and will intervene when necessary. Residents are monitored closely to ensure they receive timeous medical attention should it be required.
“Thirteen patients are registered for vaccination – which is now scheduled for June 28, 2021. The health team subsequently took the opportunity to provide screening and testing on the initial scheduled vaccination date as many of the residents were close contacts. To ensure vaccine efficacy a person cannot be vaccinated if they have Covid.”
Saul said reopening the town will be done in a phased manner following consultations.
“A decision has been taken to reopen the school on Monday on a phased-in approach, keeping to the rotational schedule. However a decision has not been taken on the reopening of the shops in the area, we are scheduled for a site visit on Monday and a decision will be taken then after consultation with stakeholders,” he added.