East London Covid-19 'patient zero' breaks quarantine

23 March 2020 - 15:04 By Soyiso Maliti, Bongani Fuzile and Asanda Nini
Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba at a recent COVID-19 media briefing in East London.
Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba at a recent COVID-19 media briefing in East London.
Image: MARK ANDREWS

The Eastern Cape government is scrambling to quarantine the province's Covid-19 patient zero, who has been roaming around East London in defiance of the state's containment measures.

DispatchLIVE reported that tough-talking health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, who held a press briefing with the SA Council of Churches on Monday morning, said the patient — who allegedly claimed to be exercising her right to freedom of movement after testing positive for the virus after her trip from Germany — should not infringe on the rights of others.

Gomba said: "[She] places people at unnecessary risk and as such, we want to call on law enforcement agencies to deal decisively with anyone found to be in contravention of the national state of disaster regulations that have been gazetted.

Our view is very clear: her rights as a citizen cannot override the rights of all citizens and laws of the land
Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba

“Our view is very clear: her rights as a citizen cannot override the rights of all citizens and laws of the land.”

Speaking to the DispatchLIVE on the sidelines, Dr Nozipho Jaxa, provincial health senior manager for training on Covid-19, said: “It's in [the patient's] best interest for her to be isolated in a facility and it is in the interest of the public in a facility. That's the discussion we're having. If the people are unhappy where she is staying, we don't want that discomfort.”

She said the patient was still “self-quarantining at home”.

Gomba also called on Germany to immediately repatriate its tourists or they may be isolated and quarantined indefinitely.

The MEC said a man with a confirmed case had travelled to the Western Cape, “criss-crossed it”,  travelled to KwaZulu-Natal, and later to Chintsa.

“We have identified a disturbing trend of tourists being bussed into B&Bs in the province. As such we have demanded that 11 German tourists, who travelled from KZN and booked at Chintsa over the weekend, be placed under quarantine.”

The MEC ordered everyone at the lodge, including workers, isolated for two weeks as from Monday.

She said the lodge's owner told the government that they had let workers go home and would not report to work as from Sunday.


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