Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane is the latest head of a province to test positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus.
This was announced by his spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha on Thursday afternoon, when he said that Mabuyane had flu symptoms and this prompted him to take a Covid-19 test, which turned out to be positive.
Other premiers who have previously tested positive include North West’s Job Mokgoro, Gauteng’s David Makhura and Alan Winde of the Western Cape.
“When his test results came back positive, Premier Mabuyane started informing his family members, staff in his office and some of the people he had met with recently about his test results and encouraging those who might be feeling similar symptoms to take Covid-19 tests ... for them to know their health status,” he said.
Sicwetsha said Mabuyane was isolating at home where he would continue with his official duties using technology for meetings and for communicating with his office, members of the executive council, leadership of the local and national government, and other stakeholders.
He said all the events and programmes that the premier was going to attend and visit had been postponed.
“The provincial government wishes Premier Mabuyane a speedy recovery as he isolates at home, and we will support him through this recovery process,” said Sicwetsha.
The news about Mabuyane’s positive test result comes a few hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s expression of concern on Wednesday evening about the signs of a resurgence in the Eastern Cape.
At the same time the country learnt with shock of the passing of former Nelson Mandela Bay Metro mayor, Mongameli Bobani, due to Covid-19.
The metro has seen a resurgence of the virus, with fears that a second wave has come already, given reports that ICU beds are full.
During his televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said that, in the last week, the number of new cases in the province had been 50% higher than the week before, and that the total number of new cases in the last 14 days had been around 145% higher than the previous 14 days.
“These increases are being driven by massive spikes in the Nelson Mandela metro and the Sarah Baartman District in particular. For the last month, there has been a sustained upward increase in hospital admissions in the province.
“The evidence suggests that the increases in the Eastern Cape could have been triggered by outbreaks in institutions of higher learning such as universities and schools, and by attendance by people at large gatherings. When this is combined with poor adherence to social distancing and mask wearing, and other poor hygiene measures, the environment for rising infections is set,” said Ramaphosa.
He said that, with many people moving between the Eastern Cape and other provinces – particularly the Western Cape – it was a matter of time before the surge spread to other parts of the country.
“We therefore need to take measures to contain the rise in infections ... we are implementing the resurgence plan that has been developed together with the surge team deployed to South Africa by the World Health Organisation.
“Interventions include primary healthcare outreach teams to intensify contact tracing, daily community mobilisation, ensuring the readiness of health facilities and being ready to respond to possible cluster outbreaks.
“We will be working closely with the provincial government, municipalities and other institutions in the Eastern Cape in the coming days and weeks to ensure that this surge is contained and managed. What we are witnessing in the Eastern Cape should be a wake-up call to all of us that we cannot relax and we cannot be complacent,” said Ramaphosa.