The Eastern Cape has embarked on a massive campaign to disinfect public areas, including taxi ranks, in a bid to stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
This week, Weziwe Tikana-Gxotiwe, the provincial MEC of transport was at the Mthatha Jubilee Taxi Rank, where she was personally fumigating taxis, aided by SA National Taxi Council members. They distributed sanitiser, gloves and masks to be used by the drivers and passengers.
“We are saying let’s kill the virus. We are trying to kill the virus so that it does not infect passengers. That’s why we are in Mthatha. We started in King William’s Town, went to Port Elizabeth, then Makhanda [formerly Grahamstown]. We then passed through Peddie,” she said, adding that they would also liaise with the bus council to embark on a similar campaign.
Tikana-Gxotiwe said when the numbers of people who had been infected with Covid-19 decreased they would know if the plan had worked but for now they were trying to roll it out “far and wide”.
Her department used a chemical for disinfection which it received from the national department of transport. She said they had since issued a tender to get more of the chemical because they did not have enough to continue.
She said the programme was mainly focused on taxi ranks and minibus taxis.
“We are disinfecting government offices in the province and in the districts. I believe the department of public works should help to ensure that all public offices are disinfected,” she said.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane, who was in Mthatha at the same time as Tikana-Gxotiwe to help in the campaign, visited the Nelson Mandela Academic Central Hospital to examine its state of readiness to deal with Covid-19 cases.
Mabuyane said it was time to be decisive and to take action – and not the time to engage in endless negotiations.
He said the virus was spreading rapidly.
“We are doing what have to do to prevent its devastating effects, especially in this province [Eastern Cape] where we have so many vulnerable people.”
He said the programme to disinfect would target hospitals which were at the “forefront of the fight against Covid-19”.
“We are disinfecting public areas, such as taxi ranks. We are also targeting hospitals and any other areas where there are lots of people, including retail shops and supermarkets. We are also appealing to the private sector to do the same so that we make sure that we disrupt the spread of the virus.
“We want to ensure this virus is not transmitted. We know it moves with people. As people move the virus moves. This is why we are asking people to remain at home. They must be quarantined to flatten the curve,” said Mabuyane.
After touring the Nelson Mandela Academic Central Hospital in Mthatha, he said he was happy and believed the hospital was ready for any case of Covid-19.
“There is still a lot of work in progress but we are ready for any eventuality. I am inspired by the commitment and dedication by the team, the management and staff of the hospital. I am quite happy,” Mabuyane said.
“I visited the lab – our second lab – to see if it was ready should things go beyond expectation at the lab in Port Elizabeth. The Mthatha lab has top-end technology.”
He said the province dreaded more cases and believed prevention was better than cure.
“I can tell you that its outbreak here will be catastrophic and disastrous because our people will be exposed. Many old people live in the province,” he said.
Meanwhile, provincial MEC of health Sindiswa Gomba, during her visit to Elliotdale where the department is carrying out mass screening and testing, said they were concerned about two funerals that took place in Port Elizabeth and Port St Johns recently.
“The funeral in Port Elizabeth of a retired nurse, who has worked in other countries as well, is of particular concern. Friends and former colleagues flocked to the funeral,” Gomba said.
She said it was worrying because people were not adhering to the guidelines stipulated by government and were putting themselves and the nation at risk.
“We are now picking up additional numbers [of Covid-19 cases] in the Port Elizabeth area.”
The MEC said there would be mass screening and testing in Port St Johns after the funeral there.
Gomba said they had recently visited Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale, where almost all of the seven kings of the province were represented. She said all the monarchs had vowed to help the government in the fight against the virus in their respective kingdoms.