Eastern Cape worried as Covid-19 infections surge at schools

30 September 2020 - 14:20 By Asanda Nini
Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said cases were increasing in Aliwal North, possibly as a result of people who shop and live in Aliwal North but work in a Free State prison.
Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said cases were increasing in Aliwal North, possibly as a result of people who shop and live in Aliwal North but work in a Free State prison.
Image: MARK ANDREWS

Eastern Cape health bosses are concerned about a second wave of Covid-19 infections spreading into the province, predominantly from the Free State.

Their fears stem from an outbreak of infections at schools in areas bordering the Free State, with health MEC Sindiswa Gomba on Tuesday describing the new wave as “fires that are spreading fast”.

She said cases were increasing in Aliwal North, possibly as a result of people who shop and live in the town but work in a Free State prison, Goedermoed.

Gomba said they were also concerned about a spike in new cases around Burgersdorp, Middelburg, Cradock and Sterkspruit.

The provincial government, Gomba revealed during a media briefing in Bhisho on Tuesday, is making arrangements with its counterparts in the Free State, for Eastern Cape officials “to test the whole prison population as this is going to affect us more than the Free State”.

Last week it was reported that the provincial department of education sent a team to help the community around Ethembeni Secondary School in Burgersdorp, where 102 schoolchildren had tested positive for Covid-19, putting more than 500 pupils and teachers in quarantine.

Gomba on Tuesday said while she was pleased that all the 102 pupils in that school had  recovered, she was concerned that the virus had now found its way to other schools in the area.

She said cases had arisen in four more schools in Burgersdorp, while in nearby Middelburg, 192 active cases were recorded in their schools, with two people having died from the virus.

“In a Cradock school, we have one positive teacher and testing of pupils and teachers is under way.

“There are further cases in three other schools in Aliwal North and in Sterkspruit at one school and these fires are spreading really fast.

“We have also reported that 26 pupils and 25 community members in Middelburg have tested positive. We are happy to announce that all these pupils have recovered, but sadly we have lost an educator and a community member who both succumbed to the pandemic,” Gomba said.

The provincial government on Tuesday used its weekly Covid-19 media briefing to unpack work being done by various departments to fight poverty.

The briefing was also attended by social development MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, rural development and agrarian reform MEC Nomakhosazana Meth and human settlements MEC Nonkqubela Pieters.

The anti-poverty programmes include food security, fighting malnutrition, provision of human settlements support and provision of social relief of distress programmes.

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