Covid-19 positive

Masked figures clad in hazmat suits were darting up and down the passages at Esselenpark campus.

A confirmed case of Covid-19 at a tuck shop in Steenberg has caused panic.

Last week a shopkeeper tested positive for Covid-19 which led police and medical personnel to close the shop and he is currently in self isolation at the shop.

Neighbour Rachel Miller, 69, said since she found out about the case on Thursday May 7 she has been worried and does not want to step out of the house for fear that she and her family might be exposed to the virus.

“We didn’t know anything about it until police came and asked them to close the shop and cordoned off the shop. He was allegedly coughing three weeks ago and he was tested positive but the shop still wasn’t closed until police came and closed it. I hope more people were not infected during this time,” she said.

Her son Randall Adonis said he was concerned that other shops connected to the shop had been continuing to operate elsewhere in the area.

“There is a chance that they can be positive but not know it and then give it to other people. More tests need to be done in Steenberg to make sure more people don’t have it,” he said.

Ms Miller said they had been buying from the shop because it was convenient to do so. “And now we are worried that we might have contracted the virus when we bought things from them,” she said.

“I am especially worried because I have hypertension and I’m a senior and it is said that we are in the high risk category. He needs to be taken to a hospital where he can be quarantined to protect us.”

The boundary wall of the shop where the man is self isolating separates the shop’s premises from Ms Miller’s property and she now refuses to sit in the yard.

When Southern Mail visited the shop last week, we were unable to speak to the man, but Gillian de Wet who lives on the same premises as the shop, along with 15 other people said they were taking all the necessary precautions.

“We were told that there is certain criteria. We will be tested if we show symptoms or after 14 days we will be taken to Tygerberg hospital. We do not have symptoms and we all feel fine. We were worried last week when we found out but we are trying not to panic. If we feel sick we will go to the hospital and get checked.”

She said the community was spreading rumours that the shop was still operating from behind closed gates. But, she said: “We want to assure everyone that the shop is closed and we are taking all precautions. We are also staying inside because if one of us might be infected we do not want to spread the virus.”

She thanked the councillor and all those who had helped them by providing food, cleaning materials and other goods since last week.

Another shop down the road was also closed last week.

The shopkeeper, only known as Allie, said he was not connected to the shop where a case of Covid-19 had been confirmed and that he had implemented the necessary precautions, including using sanitiser at his business.

“We have cleaned the shop and use sanitiser, gloves and masks and we do it continuously,” he said.

Ian Davids, who owns the house from which Allie rents space to run his shop, said foreign shop owners were being victimised.

“My feeling is to get tested and then close the shop if there are any positive cases the right way. It comes down to discrimination,” he said.

Mr Davids said people are being prejudiced because of ignorance.

“There is a stigma and people have an attitude towards them but this is unwarranted. The men that rent the shop from me live in a wendy house at the back and do not sleep in the shop. If any department comes and closes the shop then we will definitely close the shop but until that happens, we will not.

“These two men are like family to us because they’ve been here for seven years and we will not put them or ourselves at risk. If they or us show any symptoms we will do what needs to be done.”

Ward 68 councillor Marita Petersen advised residents to stick to lockdown regulations. “We don’t know who has the virus so it is imperative for people to adhere to the regulations and only go out when it is absolutely necessary. 

Ms Petersen said there was a stigma attached to people who tested positive for Covid-19. “People who are affected are ridiculed because of the stigma attached to the virus but Covid has no prejudice and can affect anyone.

“I would expect people to support one another, and it would help if communities knew about the positive cases but those people are stigmatised against and too afraid to come forward.”

She added that the matter had been escalated to the Western Cape Health Department. “The alleged positive  case is being dealt with by the sub-district and will make contact with the family and do the tracing.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a letter to South Africans last week: “The reality is that we are sailing in uncharted waters. There is still a great deal about the epidemiology of the virus that is unknown. It is better to err on the side of caution than to pay the devastating price of a lapse of judgement.”He added that the country had not nearly reached the peak of infections yet.

“All the scientific models show that the infection rate will continue to rise at a much faster rate in the next few months. However, the speed with which the virus spreads and the number of people who are ultimately infected will be determined by what we do now. That is why the easing of the lockdown needs to be gradual and cautious. It is for this reason that many regulations need to remain in place and why it is absolutely essential that people observe them.

“Social distancing and proper hygiene are still our best and only defences in this struggle. This is what informs the regulations we have put in place for level 4 of our response. Our considerations are based on empirical evidence, scientific and economic data and international best practice.”