EXCLUSIVE: Shock as forty test positive for Covid-19 in tiny Port St Johns village

With funerals under the spotlight for high risk, a funeral organised by Chief Mangaliso Bokleni in Libode displayed exemplary social distancing.
SAFE DISTANCE: With funerals under the spotlight for high risk, a funeral organised by Chief Mangaliso Bokleni in Libode displayed exemplary social distancing.
Image: SUPPLIED

Forty people in a tiny Port St Johns village have tested positive for Covid-19, but villagers — including some of those who are infected — do not seem to care. The chaotic situation in Machibini village, where there is virtually no policing or army boots on the ground, is threatening to realise the health authorities’ worst nightmare about a virus explosion in the province’s rural areas.

The 40 infected people are linked to the infamous Majola village funeral of March 21, either directly or indirectly, through carriers transmitting the virus to others. The outbreak forced the closure of Majola Tea Estate, one of the biggest employers in the area, on Thursday afternoon.

A total of 778 people have been screened and 560 tested in the area, of whom 40 were confirmed to be positive for the virus.

Health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo confirmed the source of the crisis was the Majola village funeral in March. “We want to urgently flatten the curve of the virus in Port St Johns,” Kupelo said.

Yet despite the situation, some villagers continue to walk around as if the pandemic does not exist and some of those infected are refusing to self-isolate, or go into quarantine or hospital.

This was confirmed by local traditional leader Nolundi Meji. “We are now sitting with 40 positive cases of this virus and the number will increase. Even those who have been found to be positive are roaming the streets and making contact with other people,” she said.

To make matters worse, she said, there was no law enforcement on the ground. She said she had done all she could to educate people about the dangers posed by the virus.

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