Two funerals - 54 people infected with Covid-19, one dead

A sobering picture has emerged of how burials in KwaDwesi and Zwide account for a staggering number of coronavirus infections in Nelson Mandela Bay.
A sobering picture has emerged of how burials in KwaDwesi and Zwide account for a staggering number of coronavirus infections in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Image: Stock picture

Two funerals. Fifty-four infections, including three children. One death.

A sobering picture has emerged of how burials in KwaDwesi and Zwide account for a staggering number of infections in Nelson Mandela Bay, reports HeraldLIVE.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in the Bay stood at 298 on Wednesday.

This was as 167 people who had been in contact with the mourners had also tested positive. It is not clear how many people live in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The Zwide funeral, it emerged this week, was held on April 4, when the lockdown was already in full effect.

Nine people tested positive, along with one child under the age of nine, after attending.

As Covid-19 continues to spread in the city, 45 people who attended a March 21 funeral in KwaDwesi tested positive.

One, a 66-year-old retired nurse from Central,  died on April 9 after being admitted to Livingstone Hospital.

Others who tested positive range in age from newborn to 89 years.

The KwaDwesi funeral started at a house in the township, with the procession making its way to a nearby Methodist church, where 1,200 people attended.

Only 40% of those infected showed any signs of symptoms.

At that time, gatherings of more than 100 people had already been prohibited after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national disaster because of the pandemic two weeks earlier.

Figures supplied by health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana show 31 females and 14 males contracted the virus after attending the KwaDwesi funeral.

Regarding the Zwide funeral, Manana said it was not  yet known how many people had attended, but the number should have been limited to 50, as lockdown regulations required.

The data supplied showed those infected included seven females and two males, with 80% showing Covid-19 symptoms. They ranged in age from newborns to 59 years.

Manana said the department was still capturing the details of all the those who had been in contact with the people who attended the two funerals.

“At least 167 cases were linked to two funerals and the subsequent contacts in the city. It is generational now and snowballing,” he said.

“We are capturing all the contact line lists,” he said, adding that the locations of where the patients lived were unavailable at this stage.

The Eastern Cape geared up to move to level four of the lockdown from Friday, with premier Oscar Mabuyane saying this would be done under strict conditions.

“The strict conditions are aimed at curbing transmission of the virus that may come with the easing of restrictions from level five to level four,” Mabuyane said.

Ramaphosa announced last week that level four restrictions would be put in place from Friday.

According to the disaster management regulations, decisions on the restriction of levels are made by the national government, not the provinces.

Mabuyane said the province would beef up management of the lockdown in areas with high numbers of Covid-19 infections.

This includes increased law enforcement, ensuring that people wear cloth masks at all times when they leave their homes, and ensuring workplaces implement occupational health and safety regulations aimed at ensuring a safe environment for workers.

“National and provincial government departments will work with all sectors of the economy to ensure compliance with the applicable regulations to effectively minimise transmission of the virus during level four of the national lockdown.”

Mabuyane said regular inspection of businesses by department of labour officials would continue.

“The Eastern Cape provincial government pleads with employers, especially big manufacturing businesses, to work with the government for the reopening of their businesses and the economy.”

With regards to reports of high traffic inflow into the province from the Western Cape, Mabuyane has directed the joint law enforcement teams to intensify law enforcement at points of entry into the province.

Mabuyane met Western Cape premier Alan Winde on Tuesday, and agreed that law enforcement from both provinces would set up joint operations at the points of entry connecting the provinces.

“These have started at both the Tsitsikama and Aberdeen entry points,” Mabuyane said.

It is hoped this will prevent the use of fake permits.

“The provincial government is worried there are many people travelling from the Western Cape with fake permits in the possession of taxi drivers and not the passengers, who are supposed to have their individual permits.

“National lockdown permits are given to individuals, not taxi drivers.”

Between March 27 and April 30, about 157 vehicles from the Western Cape were sent back by law enforcement agencies for not having proper national lockdown travel permits.

“Both provincial departments have agreed to beef up security at the Aberdeen, Tsitsikama and Middelburg points of entry into and out of the Eastern Cape.”

Asked if the Bay should not have remained at level five, Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Mvusi Sicwetsha, said: “The government is intensifying the lockdown to minimise the spread there [and] in all areas, especially the places with more numbers."

He said the wearing of masks, sanitising, washing hands and maintaining social distancing would help minimise the spread of the virus.

“The provincial government is now at level four, like other provinces. Our focus is now on enforcing laws and rules of the lockdown to minimise the spread and support those infected to recover.”

He said the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) continued.

“We have a forecast up to September for each of the items [of PPE]. The government appreciates the donations by individuals and organisations that contributed  items required for the management and control of the infection.”

He said police, soldiers, public representatives, traditional leaders and residents were working together to ensure compliance with lockdown regulations.

“We are calling on the public to continue with tip-offs to law enforcement so we can deal with people contravening lockdown regulations.

“We have received a lot of tip-offs from the public and these have resulted in the government stopping illegal gatherings and people breaking the laws.”