Eleven Walter Sisulu University (WSU) Queenstown campus students have tested positive for Covid-19, after one of them attended a women’s retreat in East London where she contracted the virus from a roommate.
The National Laboratory Health Service (NHLS) and the health department conducted tests at two WSU student residences in Komani on Sunday, and more than 30 students who attend a Btech class, on Monday.
The health department Chris Hani district director, Sindiswa Tywabi, said government had introduced a new rapid antigen test which made provision for results to be available immediately.
“This is the start of cluster outbreaks that we will see as we enter the festive season because we are on alert level one and people behave as if Covid-19 has been conquered. The WSU students who tested positive have been sent to an isolation facility, with one pregnant who is at Frontier Hospital for observation.”
Tywabi said as of November 22, the Chris Hani district recorded 10 515 Covid-19 infections since the lockdown began in March, with 405 new cases the most significant numbers coming from Enoch Mgijima and Inxuba Yethemba municipalities.
“Of the total accumulative number, 9 555 people have recovered and 570 have succumbed to the virus. Of the 405 new active cases, Enoch Mgijima contributed 131 infections and Inxuba Yethemba 174. Other municipalities contributed less than 20 infections each
” The department cannot stress enough the importance of non-pharmaceutical interventions like the washing of hands, wearing of masks and social distancing, but people are not conforming. If people continue to behave as if we are not in the middle of a pandemic, it means we are fighting a losing battle.”
Tywabi indicated that the Chris Hani health district was finalising a resurgence plan that would indicate areas needing attention and what resources were available.
“The district resurgence plan will assist us to put necessary measures in place like admitting people to hospitals if the numbers grow beyond anticipation. However, people refuse to be isolated because they believe in home remedies which are not allowed in some places of isolation.”
WSU professional nurse in charge Xoliswa Hlomendlini said students were taken aback by the news of infections and were anxious when tests were conducted in one of the residences.
“We also found out that some students from other residences visited the ones we tested. The Btech students attend on a part-time basis and others have jobs where they could have potentially infected people if they tested positive. A lot of contact tracing would have to be conducted to curb further infections and, most importantly, cluster outbreaks.”
Speaking on Vukani FM on Tuesday about the recent Covid-19 infections, Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) mayor Wongama Gela said the snaking queues outside the Queenstown Post office were worrisome and could lead to infections.
“We need to strengthen Covid-19 awareness campaigns to educate the people about the importance of social distancing and the maintenance of good hygiene standards. Our campaigns target hot spot areas, which have yielded good results. We urge people to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations so we may all be safe as we get used to the new normal way of doing things.”