CoronavirusSA: Government places patients under supervision

Written by Nthusang Lefafa

The North West is now closely monitoring Covid-19 patients and their contacts after a few could not be found at the addresses they shared.

The North West health department has taken a decision to place all patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 under government supervision to prevent further spread of the virus.

This decision comes after three patients could not be traced at the addresses which they provided. As from now, patients will not be quarantined in their homes but instead at guesthouses with official security.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will be placed under a 21-day lockdown. As of April 8, there were 1 749 positive Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths have been confirmed. By April 6, North West had 11 positive Covid-19 cases and no deaths.

The latest decision from the North West health department comes after a Covid-19 patient from Bloemhof could not be found at home and was traced to a farm near Welkom in the Free State.

North West health department spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane tells Health-e News that all patients who have tested positive in the province will be placed under supervision. “The health department has taken a decision to put all confirmed Covid-19 patients and their contacts under its supervision to avoid further spread of the virus.

“The decision was made after a Covid-19 patient from Bloemhof could not be found at home and had to be tracked down to a farm in Welkom. This patient was immediately put under the care of the department.”

Health MEC, Madoda Sambatha explains it is important for government to know the locations of Covid-19 patients in order to flatten the curve.

“We should at all times know where Covid-19 positive patients and their contacts are to prevent further spread. In that way, we will be able to monitor their progress and make appropriate decisions,” Sambatha says.

Increasing bed capacity 

Recently, the provincial health department conducted inspections on two mine hospitals near Klerksdorp. The province is currently making use of Klerksdorp Hospital to treat patients.

“We have done inspections in order to allocate additional bed capacity. The two hospitals, Westvaal in Orkney and Duff Scott in Stilfontein have been earmarked as overflow facilities should Klerksdorp Hospital be overwhelmed. This is to ensure that health service delivery in the area is not compromised. Klerksdorp Hospital is the only designated Covid-19 hospital in the North West.

“In the programme of fighting Covid-19, each province has to have additional bed capacity in case our facilities were to be overwhelmed like what is happening in affected countries globally,” says Sambatha.

He adds that the facilities are ready to be accessed and utilised should the need arise. Sambatha says the province is also looking for another facility in Bojanala Platinum District where most of the cases in the province have been recorded.

Government to use technology to trace patients

While addressing the Covid-19 National Command Council (NCC) media briefing last week, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says cellphone tracking will be used to access information that can assist government in minimising the spread of the virus. She assured the public that this information will not be used to spy on citizens.

“When we say we are going to use cellphone numbers, it doesn’t mean we are going take anybody’s number. Those that test and are found to be positive, it is those people that the Department of Health will seek permission from the Electronic Communications Network Service (ECNS) licences to access their geolocation,” says Ndabeni-Abrahams.

“I know that people have been concerned that government wants to spy on people. This is not spying on anyone. We do respect that everyone has the right to privacy, but in a situation like this, our individual rights do not supersede the country’s rights. The most important and critical right is ensuring the safety of South Africans.

“We are on lockdown because of the virus that is spreading. It is in our interest as government as well as South Africans to ensure that we minimise the spread of the virus,” says Ndabeni-Abrahams. – Health-e News 

For more information on Covid-19 in South Africa, you can call the toll-free line on 0800 029 999, or you can send a message that says “Hi” on WhatsApp to the number 060 012 3456. You can also visit the SA Coronavirus website.  

About the author

Nthusang Lefafa