More than a hundred health professionals and patients have been placed under quarantine at the Pietersburg Hospital in Polokwane, Limpopo. This after they were in contact with a doctor who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba says they placed the staff under quarantine on Thursday after the doctor informed the department of his results.
Limpopo has 24 confirmed coronavirus cases.
The Pietersburg Hospital in Polokwane is one of the hospitals that have been designated to admit COVID-19 patients in Limpopo. It is also one of two referral hospitals in the province, with many specialised healthcare services offered there.
MEC Phophi Ramathuba says they have learnt that one of the hospital’s doctors has tested positive for COVID-19.
The department has since traced all the people who have come into contact with the doctor. These include the doctor’s family members, patients, nurses and other hospital employees.
Ramathuba says they have collected specimen from all the contacts and placed them under quarantine at the hospital.
“Immediately when the doctor sends us the results, we immediately wanted to know all the staff that he had been in contact with in the past 14 days. All of them, we have now quarantined and taken specimen for all the close contacts. So, the staff that has been in close contacts is also under quarantine as we speak,” says Ramathuba.
Tracing source of infection
Ramathuba says the department is in the process of tracing the doctor’s source of infection. He has no recent international travel history and is believed to have been infected locally.
“When he tested he was under quarantine. We have not got proper information in terms of the history; how he could have got the virus, which is also critical when you are dealing with COVID-19. We wanted to know the staff that he has been in contact with in the past 14 days. All of them, we have classified them like we do. We check close contacts and contacts of the contacts, whatever,” says Ramathuba.
Ramathuba adds that the fact that a 9-year-old boy has tested positive for the deadly virus proves that the notion of self-isolation is not always effective. The boy’s father also tested positive for coronavirus after travelling to Bangladesh and India.
Ramathuba says self-isolation requires discipline.
“The father tested positive. The father promised that he would self-quarantine and this is a failure of self-quarantine because you can’t say you’re self-quarantining and you are getting into contact with your children. People don’t understand the self-quarantine. That is why to us this self-quarantine does not work, but you can’t force people. We are also testing all other people who were close contact from the father,” says Ramathuba.
With a population of more than five million, Ramathuba says only over one thousand residents have been tested, both at public and private labs, for COVID-19 in Limpopo thus far.
The province will on Tuesday start a massive testing drive across the province.
Ramathuba says Premier Stan Mathabatha will launch the testing drive in Lephalale, while other workers will be conducting the tests in other parts of the province.
“The area identified is Lephalale because Lephalale is having the highest number of cases. We are doing this so that we can have an idea in terms of what is the burden of the disease. We are having 10 thousand husk cadres, who will be moving around to be doing door to door. They are known to the community and we have a team of 310 professional nurses who also at the same time will be doing the testing,” says Ramathuba.
Meanwhile, the department has received R1.2 million worth of protective gear from private donor.
In this video below, Health Minister Mkhize briefs the media: