Friday, 20 March 2020

Bloemfontein: A parent of two children at a Primary School in Bloemfontein, has tested positive for the Coronavirus in the Free State.

The mother is a healthcare worker who has no history of international travel but works for a number of private hospitals in the country.

The parent – whose two children are in Grade 1 and 2 at the school – is among the seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province.

This was announced by the Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Friday, accompanied by Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela and provincial Health MEC, Montsheng Tsiu.

The delegation visited the school on Friday morning.

At the meeting with the school, teachers and parents, Mkhize explained how the situation is being managed by the department and urged parents to educate their children.

“Parents and teachers must actually invest in teaching and training children and explain to them what Coronavirus is, what it means, what it does and they must know how to prevent the spread,” said the Minister at a subsequent media briefing at Bophelo House in the Free State.

According to the Minister, the two Primary School learners developed Coronavirus-like symptoms.

If found to be positive, the Minister explained, the kids would become a first line of contact.

“It changes the game quite a lot and the children would become the first line of contact they must then be quarantined in their homes,” he said.

In a bid to contain the spread, a team of healthcare professionals have been dispatched to the school where the screening of 600 people is now underway.

Premier cancels all big events in Free State

As a drought-stricken province with high unemployment and 147 informal settlements, Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela said all “big events” in the province have been cancelled to combat the COVID-19 spread.

“Within the Free State we have 147 informal settlements, you can just imagine how many people that equals to.

“We took a decision that all big activities are going to be cancelled. I thought this thing is going to take us two to three months and I realised that it can take us the whole year,” said Premier Sisi Ntombela.

Most notable among the cancellations is the province’s biggest tourist magnet and arts and cultural gathering – Macufe. The annual event draws thousands of domestic tourists to the province

“That budget will be used to fight the war of this disease. We have no choice but to protect our people in the Free State,” she said.

Through the redirected funds, Ntombela committed to procure water and sanitisers to ramp up hygiene and fight the scourge of the virus.

Contact tracing gets underway

With local transmission cases confirmed in the province, the Free State provincial SA Red Cross, with about 285 volunteers, have immediately started the mapping of affected people.

A senior expert from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases has also been dispatched to assist the province and is expected to arrive on Friday.