25 test positive for Covid-19 at KZN matric marking centre after marker dies

Nivashni Nair Senior reporter
KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and premier Sihle Zikalala conduct an inspection of the matric marking centre at Umlazi Comtech High School.
KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and premier Sihle Zikalala conduct an inspection of the matric marking centre at Umlazi Comtech High School.
Image: Supplied

Twenty-five employees at a matric marking centre in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal, have tested positive for Covid-19 after a marker succumbed to the virus.

The KwaZulu-Natal education department said 18 of the 25 were markers.

“All 25 employees are receiving medical attention and have since been released from their duties at the marking centre. In addition to this, one of the markers has since tested positive at a hospital when she had gone for a voluntary test,” the department said on Thursday.

It explained that on January 8, it had received news that a marker, who had been assigned to Estcourt High School, had died.

The marker had arrived at the centre already with an infection.

“On the day she reported shortness of breath and an ambulance was called. There were no beds immediately available in any of the private hospitals and she was ultimately admitted to Estcourt Provincial Hospital, where she met her demise.

“In response to this tragedy, all contacts were isolated and tested and after that a process referred to as rapid testing was invoked. All markers in the centre were tested and the specific marking venues where the marker had worked, were decontaminated.

“The whole marking centre is being deep-cleaned twice a day and this will be so until the end of the marking process.

“As a result of the rapid testing, another 25 employees tested positive, of which 18 are markers,” the department said.

On Monday, the department received news of the death of a marker at Inanda Seminary School.

“The head of department and a team of senior officials are gathering all necessary information and ensuring the safety of all other markers.”

The department of health offered rapid testing for markers at the Umfolozi TVET College.

“At first, only four markers volunteered to be tested. However, after a series of engagements with markers and unions, all 350 markers have agreed to be tested and the remaining group of nine will be tested on Thursday,” the department said.

On Tuesday premier Sihle Zikala visited the Umlazi Comtech marking centre.

“We were satisfied with the level of organisation, professionalism, security and cleanliness at the centre. It is our hope that this will be maintained until all the scripts are marked. It is worth noting that the Umlazi centre is the biggest in the province and it is encouraging when no challenges are reported from it,” the department said.

“We are also encouraged by the participation of the portfolio committee for education and unions in this exercise. We are happy to report that challenges that were pointed out by stakeholders were addressed timeously and with the greatest of care and in adherence with the Covid-19 protocols.

“The department is proceeding with monitoring all the marking centres until the last script is marked and until all results are captured.”

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