Lockdown challenges

SOUTH AFRICA - Cape Town - 18 March 2020 - Coronavirus - With up to 15 people per square meter in townships and on the Cape Flats, South Africa is bracing itself in the event of the coronavirus taking foothold in these high density, often polluted and lacking in fresh readily available water. A child wearing a makshift face mask in Manenberg. The rubbish and illegal dumping is seen as a potential excelerator Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Manenberg residents have mixed feelings about staying indoors for the remainder of the lockdown.

Manenberg Community Police Forum chairwoman Roegchanda Pascoe says Covid-19 means nothing to people on the Cape Flats because many of them feel they face bigger problems.

“We expect people to be indoors, but they are not. It’s like a normal day in Manenberg, no one is adhering to the lockdown rules. When I ask people, ‘Why are you walking around?’ they say, ‘What? We face bullets every day, so we are going to die anyway. Why should we worry about this disease?’”

Amina Abrahams, of Manenberg, said some families had told her their living conditions made it hard to stay indoors.

“I took initiative before the lockdown occurred, saying that we will not go out of the house and my family adheres to it. People are roaming around, children are playing. A week ago, this man was coughing and coughing in the road and all over the children. I told them to go in, and they don’t even listen. Where are the parents? People are ignorant. They say that they cannot be in doors as they are living up to ten in a house. They tell me I mustn’t tell them what to do although I am trying to help them.”

When this edition went to print, South Africa had 1 655 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 11 deaths.

Provincial Department of Health spokeswoman Monique Johnstone said they couldn’t give a neighbourhood breakdown of cases, but five people tested positive last week in the department’s Klipfontein sub-district, which includes, Athlone, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Heideveld, Gugulethu and Philippi.

She didn’t say whether they were tested at state or private hospitals, but the five are in self-isolation in their homes and will be quarantined for 14 days. They will then be tested again to see if they are free of the virus.

People needed to comply with the lockdown’s rules to stop the spread of Covid-19, she said.

“Unfortunately people are still not listening, and they still go out and act like things are normal. We are urging people to self-isolate if they display the symptoms and to call the hotline if they need to be tested.”

Covid-19 tests cost more than R1000 at a private hospital, but the state does them for free if you meet the criteria to be tested.

Someone who suspects they have Covid-19 should call the provincial hotline, Ms Johnstone said. A team would be sent to assess them and refer them to hospital for testing if necessary.

On Monday March 30, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation that 740 000 people were infected worldwide and more than 35 000 people had died from the virus. He reiterated his call for people to stay at home.

“Leave your home only if you need to get food and essential provisions, collect a social grant, buy medicine or get urgent medical care. If you do have to go out, make sure you do everything you can not to get infected and not to infect anyone else.”

Covid-19 did not discriminate, Mr Ramaphosa said.

“It infects the rich and the poor, the young and the old, black and white, those who live in the cities and those in the villages. Let us not make the mistake of thinking this is somebody else’s problem.

“Every time you violate the regulations the government has issued or try to get around the rules, you are putting yourself and others at risk and helping the virus to spread.”

The government would deploy 10 000 field workers to do screening, testing and tracing of Covid-19 contacts, he said.

People displaying symptoms would be referred to local clinics or mobile clinics for testing. Those who were infected but with none or moderate symptoms would be isolated at their homes or in government facilities, while those with severe symptoms would go to hospital.

If you are displaying Covid-19 symptoms, call the provincial hotline at 021 928 4102 or WhatsApp 060 012 3456.