A care home in Cape Town, Nazareth House, has recorded four cases of Covid-19 among residents and 11 among staff, and a terminally ill resident who died was also found to have the virus, according to a letter sent by its CEO and seen by News24.
The infected cases are largely contained to one of the home's two properties in Vredehoek, known as The Villa, according to the letter sent on 8 May to family of residents who stay at the home.
The facility was undergoing a deep clean and was due to be sanitised this past Saturday, the letter read.
"As reported last week, a resident at The Villa - Cape Town passed and was confirmed positive for the Covid-19 virus thereafter," read the letter signed by CEO Wayne Devy.
"A process of investigation, swabbing and testing ensued, including isolation and deep cleaning of the facility.
"Challenges in obtaining the necessary swabs for testing, delays in testing, and a delay in receiving results has been experienced."
In the letter, it was revealed that a further four residents at The Villa tested positive for the virus as well as 11 staff members.
One person had died at The Villa.
The letter confirmed that another person who died at the Main House, a separate property, had subsequently tested positive for the virus.
"As this is a different and isolated unit to the Villa - Cape Town, the origin and/or transfer of the virus within this facility, is of major concern. The facility has been placed in strict lockdown with residents in controlled room isolation," the letter read.
A distraught family member of one of the residents, who lives abroad, contacted News24 to say she is extremely worried about her father, a former advocate by trade, who lives at the Main House.
She told News24 that the facility was to go into lockdown on March 27, but she was concerned as it had recorded so many cases since then.
Unable to travel to Cape Town herself, due to the international travel restrictions, she said that when she called the facility for answers on how it was possible to have so many cases there, they simply put the phone down on her.
"What procedures did they follow when they did the lockdown?" she asked, in tears, over the phone.
'My father is going to die'
She wanted to know if staff members were properly screened, and whether anybody else was allowed into the facility.
"My father is going to [possibly] die because some woman, who wasn't protected at Nazareth House, has come and given him his food or given him his pills or bathed him," she said angrily. Her father does not have the virus.
At the time of the issuing of the letter, 100 people had been tested, including both staff and residents, while five tests were pending.
She was alarmed, though, by the fact that 60 staff were yet to be tested at the time of the letter this past Thursday.
She said her father is a strong person, but he also has the potential comorbidities associated with those who find it more difficult to recover from Covid-19 - diabetes, heart, and lung problems.
"And he has come into contact with all of these staff members," she told News24.
In the letter, Devy notes that it has been an extremely emotional time at the facility.
"This has not been an easy journey and with the challenges has been exhausting. I kindly call for support and encouraging words from all who are involved and who are Friends of Nazareth."
The institution was instituting a number of steps to mitigate the spread of the virus in the entire facility, aside from the deep clean.
- They were tracing those who had come into contact with the resident who died last Tuesday.
- All family and staff members had been informed.
- All staff members at the Main House would be screened and tested, and then immediately sent into quarantine.
The house was working with the Departments of Health and Social Development, and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID).
After multiple attempts to get additional comment from Nazareth House on Tuesday via phone and email, all queries were referred to Devy, and no responses had been received at the time of writing.
Devy's phone went to voicemail on Tuesday evening, and messages were not responded to.
News24 also contacted the health MEC's spokesperson Nomawethu Sbukwana and the Department of Social Development for comment. Their responses will be added when received.