Two boozy student outings in East London’s Quigney area have fuelled fears of a “second wave” of Covid-19 infections.
A group of 30 University of Fort Hare (UFH) students are currently in quarantine at the university’s Alice campus after testing positive for the coronavirus. The affected students had attended two parties on October 3 and 10, the provincial health department revealed at the weekend.
More results are still outstanding, with the numbers expected to rise drastically, provincial health spokesperson Siyanda Manana said.
These latest infections, Manana said, mostly affected the university’s nursing science students and some from the law faculty. This has been confirmed by the institution.
University of Fort Hare spokesperson Thandi Mapukata said the positive students were in isolation in Alice, where 134 rooms have been set aside for quarantine and isolation. Contact tracing of those who made contact with the positive students had been activated, Mapukata said on Sunday.
In a joint statement issued at the weekend, Mapukata and Manana said an investigation and interviews conducted led them to believe that a party that took place at a tavern in Quigney on October 3 was the cause of the infections.
That party was followed by another party seven days later, which further spread the positive cases.According to the statement, a student who was interviewed confirmed that the first party was “non-compliant with regulations” as those who attended it disregarded social distancing, did not wear masks, and that there were about 300 people in attendance.
It is alleged that some also drank from the same bottle.
Two of the students who tested positive later went to their homes in Mount Fletcher and in Reeston outside East London.“Tracing teams in the two districts were alerted and are making follow ups,” Manana said.
Mapukata said the higher education department had been alerted of the developments in the institution.She said the numbers were rising and the institution was concerned.
Manana urged people to remain vigilant as Covid-19 “is still among us”.“It is an invisible pandemic and our people are encouraged to always wear their masks, keep to social distancing, wash their hands regularly for more than 20 seconds, sanitise their hands, and be tested once they exhibit the symptoms of coronavirus,” Manana said.
He urged people to avoid overcrowded places.“We have seen an increase in the numbers as the levels of lockdown are brought down by the government.
“However, people seem to think the coronavirus is no more. “People are advised to be responsible for their health.”
An analysis of the average number of weekly infections countrywide put them at 33,464 in August.In September, this was down to 11,824, but in the first half of October, the figure was 11,923, showing an upward trajectory.
There has been an uptick in infections in the past two weeks, with about 1,200 new cases registered daily.On Friday, 2,019 cases were reported in 24-hours, according to Wits University vaccinology professor Shabir Madhi.
“About 15% of people are responsible for about 80% of all direct infections,” Madhi said, adding that it might be that those people responsible for the majority of cases socialised more and had a much higher viral load. — Additional reporting by Sunday Times