BREAKING | East London Covid-19 woman breaks quarantine

Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba at the COVID-19 Media briefing in East London.
Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba at the COVID-19 Media briefing in East London.

The provincial government is scrambling to quarantine Eastern Cape's Covid-19 patient one, who has been roaming around East London in defiance of the state's containment measures.

Tough-talking health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, who held a press briefing with the SA Council of Churches on Monday morning, said patient one — who  allegedly claimed to be exercising her right to freedom of movement after testing positive for the virus following her trip from Germany — should not infringe on the rights of others.

Gomba said: “[She] places people at unnecessary risk and as such, we want to call on law enforcement agencies to deal decisively with anyone found to be in contravention of the national state of disaster regulations that have been gazetted.

“Our view is very clear: her rights as a citizen cannot override the rights of all citizens and laws of the land.”

Speaking to the DispatchLIVE on the sidelines, Dr Nozipho Jaxa, provincial health senior manager for training on Covid-19, said: “It's in [patient one's] best interest for her to be isolated in a facility and it is in the interest of the public in a facility. That's the discussion we're having. If the people are unhappy where she is staying, we don't want that discomfort.”

She said the patient was still “self-quarantining at home”.

Gomba also called on Germany to immediately repatriate its tourists or they may be isolated and quarantined indefinitely.

The MEC said the man with the confirmed case had travelled to the Western Cape, “crisscrossed it”,  travelled to KwaZulu-Natal, and later come to Chintsa's Crawford's Lodge.

“We have identified a disturbing trend of tourists being bussed into B&Bs in the province. As such we have demanded that 11 German tourists, who travelled from KZN and booked at Chintsa over the weekend, be placed under quarantine."

The MEC ordered everyone at the lodge, including workers, isolated for two weeks as from Monday. She said the lodge's owner told the government that they had let workers go home and would not report to work as from Sunday.

Church leaders postponed an elective conference and registered their support for the provincial government.

On Monday, economic development, environmental affairs and tourism MEC Mlungisi Mvoko announced a travel ban for tourists coming from “high risk countries” such as USA, Iran, South Korea, United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, China, France, Germany and Italy. Visitors from those areas will no longer be welcome in the province.

Mvoko said travellers from “medium risk countries” such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore would also not be allowed in the province, “until this time in 2021".

“As a largely rural province of limited resources and capacity, the welfare of our people is sacrosanct. It is of utmost importance that we all do everything in our power to keep the number of corona cases at bay and protect our communities,” said Mvoko.