Covid-19 family ran and lied about father's whereabouts

Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku said the family, who are all German citizens, evaded the authorities after the mother and daughter presented symptoms associated with the coronavirus at a Johannesburg private hospital on Friday.
Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku said the family, who are all German citizens, evaded the authorities after the mother and daughter presented symptoms associated with the coronavirus at a Johannesburg private hospital on Friday.
Image: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/BERND THISSEN

A family of three who were arrested by police for refusing to go into coronavirus quarantine had been living at a bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Johannesburg, but left after being instructed to isolate themselves.

This was revealed by Gauteng MEC for health Bandile Masuku in his affidavit filed in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, seeking an order for the trio's arrest.

The family was cornered and apprehended on Tuesday - two days after tests confirmed the mother and her 14-year-old daughter had tested positive for the novel Covid-19.

It's unclear how many people the family may have come in contact with during the two-day period when they were moving around.

The trio, who are all German citizens, evaded the authorities after the mother and daughter presented symptoms associated with the coronavirus at a Johannesburg private hospital on Friday.

Masuku said when Gauteng department of health employees attempted to locate the mother and daughter at the B&B which they gave as their address, the family had checked out and were seeking alternative residence.

"I mention that the first [mother] and second [daughter] respondents were moving around during this period which was in direct conflict with strict instructions given to isolate themselves as they were carriers of Covid-19," Masuku said.

Masuku said his department had to act with urgency by approaching the court to trace the family.

The third member of the family - the woman's husband - had apparently refused to be tested despite being in contact with his wife and daughter.

A nurse at the hospital where the family had presented the symptoms of coronavirus said in an affidavit supporting Masuku's application that the family had recently flown into in SA from Germany.

The nurse said the mother and daughter provided a history of being in contact with a carrier of Covid-19 in Germany.

"On the night of March 13 or in the early hours of March 14, blood specimens were taken from the first and second respondents... to test for Covid-19. The first and second respondents were thereafter sent home and advised to self-isolate until the blood results were received from laboratory," the nurse said.

"On March 15, the blood results came back positive for Covid-19. The doctor contacted the first respondent and informed her that the blood results had come back positive and that the first and second respondents were required to self-isolate."

The nurse further said the mother and her daughter were again advised to proceed to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital for further care.

But according to Masuku, the family had lied that the third member had allegedly left the country for Germany.

"The GDoH [Gauteng department of health] was informed that the first and second respondents were en route to Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. When they did not arrive, employees of the GDoH attempted to contact the first respondent to enquire about their whereabouts," Masuku said.

He further said a day later, the mother and daughter were located at the same Johannesburg private hospital where they sought further medical attention. "The first respondent indicated to the attending nurse that the third respondent [her husband] had left South Africa for Germany on March 14," he said.

He said according to the department of home affairs, the husband entered SA on September 8 2017 and there was no indication of a departure date.

"The third respondent's refusal to be tested for possibly being infected with Covid-19 is clearly posing a significant threat and danger to the public at large. Ordering the third respondent to be tested and alternatively quarantined is clearly in the public interest," Masuku said.

Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the family is being attended to at a designated health facility.

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