#CoronaVirusSA: Limpopo Health MEC worried that ‘it’s still business as usual’

#CoronaVirusSA: Limpopo Health MEC worried that ‘it’s still business as usual’Washing hands for with soap for 20 seconds is one of the most recommended ways to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo Credit: Health-e/ Luntu Ndzandze)

Despite calls from the Presidency to limit social interaction — following social distancing protocols — Limpopo residents continue to gather en masse.

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Health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, is concerned about communities not following Covid-19 precautionary measures, such as social distancing, avoiding crowds and mass gatherings. The lax attitude of Limpopo residents came under fire by Ramathuba in a recent provincial address. 

“It is concerning that despite the evidence of mass infection in a church set-up, as was seen in Free State, people continue to gather in churches, drinking halls, at funerals and even shopping malls. During the weekend, we have seen people gathering in large crowds as if it’s still business as usual. This is indicative of the fact that some of our community members have still not internalised the veracity of the challenges facing the country,” says Ramathuba.

‘If community members don’t play ball, we won’t win this battle’

Over the weekend in the Vhembe district, most churches and funerals went ahead as planned, with crowds surpassing 100 people, while the Thohoyandou and Elim shopping complexes were busy. In Thohoyandou, more than 100 residents attended the funeral of Warrant Officer Stanley Mudau, who was stabbed to death while on duty, investigating a rape case.

The MEC pleaded with communities in the province to take full responsibility for their well-being, and protect others from potential Covid-19 infection.

“Under the circumstances, we expect people to do what is right, and not require police to chase after them in order to do what is right. No matter how much effort the government puts in to fight this scourge — if community members don’t play ball, we won’t win this battle,” Ramathuba explains. 

Ramathuba has advised residents who are currently Gauteng-based to refrain from visiting their homes in the province during the Easter weekend, saying it will be difficult to contain Coronavirus, should it reach rural communities in Limpopo. Over the years, it has become a norm for scores of Limpopo citizens working in other provinces to drive home for the Easter weekend to see their families, or attend the ZCC Easter service in Moria.

Covid-19 myths abound

Mercy Raphalalani, a resident of Tshipako village outside Thohoyandou, says she is worried about her fellow villagers who aren’t sticking to the government’s calls to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“Ignorance is largely to blame for rural people carrying on like everything is normal while we have a disaster. People think that this thing [Covid-19] is not real. There’s myths going around, saying the virus does not affect Africans, and that the heat around here will make it difficult for the virus to spread,” says Raphalalani.

She believes that the government does need to show its rural citizens more urgency in addressing the issue, and that providing rural communities with protective measures, such as sanitising gear, will help debunk myths.

“I think our government must focus on these rural areas by donating hand sanitizers, masks and gloves — maybe people will start to believe that we do have Covid-19 in the country and that everyone should be serious about it. More education about the virus is also needed in our villages, as people aren’t following any of the precautionary measures.” –Health-e News

For more information on the virus, you can the toll-free public line: 0800 029 999, or you can send a message that says “Hi” on Whatsapp to the number 060 012 3456 to get updates on Covid-19 in South Africa. Or you can visit https://sacoronavirus.co.za/