Covid-19: Pastor says he was careful not to infect congregants

A pastor from the Lewende Woord church in Witbank has tested positive for the coronavirus.
A pastor from the Lewende Woord church in Witbank has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Image: 123RF/Jens Tandler

A Witbank pastor who has tested positive for Covid-19 has released a video in which he explains how he has taken all the necessary precautions to keep his family and congregants safe from infection.

Pastor Andries van Schalkwyk of Lewende Woord church sent a video to the local newspaper, the Witbank News, in which he said he had been in self-isolation since he returned from a trip to the UK several weeks ago.

“I was travelling from the UK. I was ministering there a few weeks ago. My wife phoned me four or five days into our trip and said they want to lock down (SA). I said to her I would much rather be with you guys than sitting in the UK ... We didn’t have services that side during the time of the lockdown so I wasn’t ministering,” said Van Schalkwyk.

He left the UK for SA and was screened on the plane and again when he reached SA.

“There were no symptoms,” he said.

Van Schalwyk said he adhered to the recommendation to remain in isolation after his return from what is deemed a high-risk zone.

“So I was in quarantine at my own house,” he said.

A few days later, he noticed he had a nasal drip but associated it with the seasonal change. He nonetheless got tested.

Several days later, he received his results which verified he was carrying the virus.

His family has since been tested and are negative.

“I just want to clear up that no-one was negligent. We did what the law required from us as far as we know,” he said.

Van Schalkwyk stressed that the virus could infect anyone and it was not immune to a  particular race or gender.

“We are fighting a common enemy,” he said, urging people to rather stay at home than risk contracting the virus. “Be a hero — stay at your house. Do all the things that you always said you don’t have time for. It’s a great opportunity for men and women to reconnect, to connect with your children again,” he added.

Van Schalkwyk said the number of positive cases were bound to increase but he called on people not to panic.

He is one of several pastors who have tested positive for the virus.

Last week, SowetanLIVE reported that the renowned ‘Faith like Potatoes’ evangelist Angus Buchan and ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe had tested positive for the virus.

This was after they had attended a church event in Bloemfontein where there were five international guests. Some of those guests have also since tested positive for the virus.

In a bid to stop the spread of the virus, many churches have turned to livestreaming their services and EFTs are being encouraged for offering and tithing.

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