#CoronaVirusSA: First Mthatha Covid-19 death spooks residents

Patient waiting for screening and testing in New Payne Mthatha:Credit(Lindiwe Pakati/Health-e News)
Written by Lindiwe Pakati

The deceased is the first death in the OR Tambo region, and his coronavirus diagnosis was only found out after he passed away.

OR Tambo District’s first Covid-19 death has come as a surprise to everyone involved — from family and friends, to healthcare workers and the local government. This is due to his Covid-19 diagnosis being post mortem.

Eastern Cape health department spokesperson, Judy Ngoloyi, confirmed that a 79-year-old man was the first patient to pass away from Covid-19 related issues in the OR Tambo region. He was an outpatient at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital, where he came in to be seen for urinary incontinence, and passed away at his home in New Payne on 13 April.

Ngoloyi tells Health-e News that they only knew about the man’s status after he passed away, and started to test those who were in contact with him. 

Since the confirmation of his status, the Department of Health has sent healthcare workers out to do mass screening and testing for Covid-19 in the New Payne community.

‘My heart sank when I heard the news’

A New Payne resident, Thembelani Mdingi, spoke with Health-e News, saying that he was in a complete state of shock after hearing that the deceased had died due to Covid-19 related issues.

“On the 29 March, I attended a funeral in New Payne, but the elderly man [the deceased] was not there, as he was at another funeral in Port St John. On 30 March he came back and we spent time together with other people who were attending the funeral here in New Payne,” he says.

“When I first heard about this case my heart sank, and I didn’t even have one peaceful night’s sleep because I was with him on 30 March. But I’m happy that I’ve been tested [for Covid-19] now,” adds Mdingi. 

Healthcare workers chased out of community

Although a mass screening and testing campaign was launched into high gear after the passing of the man in New Payne, nurses and healthcare workers were chased away by the community — some of whom allegedly locked their property’s gates and set their dogs on the healthcare workers. 

The maligned healthcare workers formally complained to Ward 30 councillor, Bongani Bikani. He condemned the community’s behaviour, and said people still need to be educated and given more information about the Covid-19 pandemic. 

He also added that there’s a “possibility that the number of infections can increase as there were many people who were in physical contact with the late man.”

According to the Eastern Cape Health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba, the number of infections continue to increase because people aren’t complying with the regulations of the lockdown — especially with regards to funerals

The first Covid-19 confirmed cases in the OR Tambo region was reported a week ago in Majola village, Port St Johns, where six people tested positive for Covid-19. — 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

Lindiwe Pakati