People are being screened for the coronavirus, which is fast reaching pandemic proportions globally, on entering the gates of Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre, better known as the day hospital.
They have to answer questions about their well-being and are told about Covid-19, which includes symptoms such as a sore throat, a high temperature, sneezing and coughing.
The Plainsman visited the centre on Monday March 16, following a fake news voice note doing the rounds that a Woodlands man was suspected of having the virus.
Hours before, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the closing of schools from today Wednesday March 18; the restriction of public gatherings to 100 people; and the insistence that citizens practise good hygiene at all times.
The global virus is spread when coming into contact with someone who has the virus or with a traveller, who has been in a contaminated environment.
Western Cape health spokesperson for the Klipfontein/Mitchell’s Plain substructure, Monique Johnstone, said residents should not listen or spread rumours as it causes unnecessary panic.
Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital, Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre and the Midwife Obstetrics Unit (MOU) are limiting their visiting hours and the amount of visitors. Escorts are also being limited to avoid infections as a precaution.
Patient Christina Fredericks, 62, from Beacon Valley, who was at the day hospital since 7am said that everything was calm at the facility. “They didn’t close any doors on patients. They gave masks to the patients at the hospital and shared information on the coronavirus to us. There was no panic,” she said.
A worker at the hospital, who did not want to be named, said there was no panic, “everyone just wanted a mask. It hasn’t been confirmed that a woman who visited the hospital had the virus,” he said.
Jocelyn Petersen, secretary of the Westridge Health Committee, said there was not increased activity at the hospital despite the fake news of the Woodlands man going viral on social media.
“The people were standing outside in the morning. They were in a bit of a panic and shouted “what was going to happen to their health.”
However, afterwards, the patients went in and they were helped but it was not as crowded as it usually was.
During the monthly Sub-council 23 meeting on Monday March 16, Joan Woodman, councillor for Ward 75 (Colorado Park, Morgen’s Village, Westgate, Wildwood, Rondevlei Park, Woodlands, parts of Weltevreden Valley, parts of Philippi, Highlands Village, Hyde Park, Westgate and New Woodlands and Goawa Timm, councillor for Ward 76 (Lentegeur and parts of Ikwezi Park), wore masks.
Ms Woodman said the community was experiencing panic. “This is raising so much panic, as the rumours keep spreading,” she said.
Sub-council 23 chairman Elton Jansen said they did not have the capacity to answer every message to confirm or refute cases of the coronavirus.
He said confirmation on this would be sent to the public via official communication channels.
Sithembiso Mzobe, councillor for Ward 33 (Philippi), said informal settlements would be hard hit by the virus, as hand-washing was dependent on the availability of water.
He said faulty water management devices would also affect residents’ health. “I hope a plan will be put in place to fight this pandemic,” he said.
Ernest Theron, the ANC’s Proportional Representative (PR) councillor in Sub-council 23,, said this should apply to backyard dwellers too sd the issue of water may affect their health because of the virus.
He also said that he preferred the elbow greeting instead of waving.
Mr Jansen said water is a very important commodity, which would link to how the virus could be combated.
The councillors’ comments will be sent to the City of Cape Town’s water department.
“We need clarity on disconnections of water and revenue in informal settlements and for backyard dwellers. We must exercise wisdom in this time. Let the elbow greet be the new way of greeting,” he said.
Sub-council 23 will continue to distribute pamphlets with information on the coronavirus to residents, Mr Jansen said.
The Mitchell’s Plain Indoor Sport and Recreation Centre in Portland and some religious centres have shut down, specifically to help contain the spread of the virus.
Facility management committee chairman of the centre, Eddie Marshall, said the indoor sports centre had been booked for functions, including weddings, and that their tenant, a college, would be reimbursed.
“Yes, we will lose money but I would rather shut services down than put any of the facility users or its workers at risk,” he said.
Mr Marshall reiterated that there would be no activities at the facility.
Pastor Dean Carelse, at Shekinah Full Gospel Church of God in Beacon Valley, said a meeting was held yesterday, Tuesday March 17, with their governing body, presbytery and department leadership was held to determine the way forward.
He said the leadership would make an announcement later this week.
“The ban of 100 people per event is an obvious challenge for Shekinah. I believe that our response needs to go beyond worship services. Church is far more than just worship services. How do we live out our faith in the community now? Our response will definitely reflect a broader approach,” he said.
Senior Pastor Raymond Mentor at the Evangelical Bible Church in Beacon Valley said they spoke about the coronavirus in church on Sunday March 15, informing parishioners to take care of themselves and appealed to them not to panic.
The church will be open as usual but will meet tomorrow, Thursday March 19, to discuss the way forward.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) SA Fatwa Committee has decreed that mosques should not be completely closed but religious obligations should happen within certain parameters.
They said the president’s announcement necessitated that the manner in which Muslims conduct their religious obligations align with the universal imperative of containing the spread of the virus.
“Muslims, as much as they carry the obligation of certain religious observances, also share with all other South Africans and citizens of the world the civil responsibility of ensuring safety and preserving life,” read the statement, signed by mufti ameer head of the fatwa committee, Maulana Taha Karaan.
“The MJC, together with all its sister organisations, and in consultation with the authorities, will continue to monitor the situation, ” he said.
They also decreed that the use of hand sanitiser is acceptable, even the types that contain alcohols – isopropanol and ethanol.
People who are sick and have compromised immune systems should refrain from attending mosques.
They listed chronic medical conditions such as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, tuberculosis (TB), Hiv or Aids.
Yesterday ,Tuesday March 17, Sheikh Riad Fataar, the second deputy president of the MJC, said that all mosques would remain open.
However, Friday congregational prayers (jumu’ah) have been suspended for the next four weeks.
The statement discouraged gatherings at the mosque for occasions like Lailatul Me’raj, Rajab 27 -1441, which coincides with Saturday March 21, a commemoration of the prophet Muhammad’s journey to the seven heavens.
Social gatherings like weddings, janazahs (funerals), prayer meetings and classes should be restricted in terms of numbers.
Minimise or avoid handshaking but encourage the verbal greeting of “salaam”.
Some mosques will remain open for daily prayers but that will be decided by each mosque committee.
Sheikh Abduragmaan Alexander, flanked by representatives of the leadership, board of trustees and executive members of the mosque, read out a statement in a video posted on Facebook that Gatesville Masjidul Quds would shut their doors as of yesterday, Tuesday March 17.
To stay informed on #COVID19, join the Department of Health’s WhatsApp support group for South Africans by saving the number 060 012 3456 in your contacts and type “Hi” in the message section or log onto www.sacoronavirus.co.za Both platforms contain important contact details, including the emergency support hotline, and up-to-date news and resources.
At the time of printing, South Africa had 62 confirmed coronavirus cases with no deaths – Gauteng 31, Western Cape 16, KwaZulu-Natal 12, Mpumalanga 2, and Limpopo 1. The number of people infected with the virus is expected to rise in the coming days and weeks.
If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999.