Covid-19: Intermittent closure of buildings unsustainable, says Limpopo health dept

A health worker holds a throat swab to test Covid-19.
A health worker holds a throat swab to test Covid-19.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
  • Limpopo's health department believes the closing down of buildings or schools each time a case is detected is unsustainable.
  • On Tuesday, two more people in the premier's office tested positive, which led to the building closing.
  • This after an employee in the same building had tested positive last week, which led to the building's closure.

The Limpopo Department of Health has advised against the temporary closure of government buildings, schools and institutions each time a Covid-19 case is detected. 

This after the Provincial Command Council on Covid-19 raised concern the practice was unsustainable and urged health authorities to advice accordingly. 

Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba told News24 the guidelines for environmental cleaning and disinfection in non-health facilities have since been submitted to the council. 

"The practice cannot be sustainable at all as each time a case is detected, a building or a school has to be closed. 

"It means we will have to close hospitals and clinics, and this cannot be correct," Ramathuba said. 

The guidelines point to daily environmental cleaning processes, recommended detergents as well as disinfectants and the safety of cleaners, among others. 

The guidelines move on the premise by the time a Covid-19 case is known, the daily environmental cleaning process would have been performed for two or more days hence there is no need for the intermittent closure of buildings. 

"When a person with coronavirus coughs or sneezes, they leave the virus on surfaces.  

"The SARS-Cov-2 virus is known to survive on surfaces for up to seven days depending on environmental conditions and type of surface," the guideline document stated. 

READ | Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital cancer radiation unit open again after Covid-19 deep cleaning

On Tuesday, two more officials in the Office of the Premier in Polokwane tested positive for Covid-19. This after the building was temporary closed last week after a reported case. 

There has also been intermittent closures of several police stations and government buildings across the province since the pandemic's surge. 

The infection rate in the province is also continuing to rise, with an average of 200 positive cases being reported within a 24-hour cycle, since last week. 

By Sunday, the figure stood at 4 254 with 45 deaths. Between Saturday and Sunday, 331 cases were recorded. 

The rising numbers have led the DA to demand the release of a list of quarantine and isolation facilities in the province. 

The party's Katlego Phala said the request for the list had fallen on deaf ears. 

ALSO READ | Tshwane bus services suspended, depots closed after positive case

"One has to wonder what the provincial government is hiding by not supplying the DA with the requested information. 

"A sizeable portion of Limpopo's population live in poverty and in informal settlements which might make it difficult to have enough space to effectively isolate. 

"It cannot be ruled out that one of those [factors for the rising infection rate] may be the fact that the vulnerable in our communities do not have enough space to isolate from other people," Phala added.

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