A hospital, a prayer breakfast and a prison: Covid-19 local epicentres so far

Residents of Stjwetla Section in Alexandra township queue for Covid-19 swab tests outside a testing station on March 31, 2020.
Residents of Stjwetla Section in Alexandra township queue for Covid-19 swab tests outside a testing station on March 31, 2020.
Phill Magakoe, AFP

Since the Covid-19 pandemic reared its head in South Africa, with the first case confirmed in early March, three provinces have seen significantly more cases than the others, while at least three major local epicentres have emerged.

As of Sunday, the national Department of Health confirmed there were 2 173 cases of Covid-19 in the country, with the death toll standing at 25.

Provincially, Gauteng has recorded the most cases of the virus with 865 confirmed cases. The Western Cape has recorded 587, while KwaZulu-Natal has 443. The next highest is the Free State with significantly less at 96.

When zooming in on specific outbreaks, three local epicentres have also emerged across different provinces; the Jerusalem prayer breakfast gathering in Bloemfontein, the East London Correctional Centre outbreak in the Eastern Cape and St Augustine's Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.

Jerusalem prayer breakfast gathering

The Jerusalem prayer breakfast gathering took place from 9 to 11 March at the Divine Restoration Ministries in Bloemfontein. Five international travellers, who attended the church gathering, were infected with the virus.

Since the event, several attendees have tested positive for Covid-19, including ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, ACDP MP Steve Swart, lay preacher Angus Buchan and his wife, Jill, News24 previously reported.

READ | Bloemfontein church gathering: 67 more people test positive for Covid-19

An 85-year-old pastor, who attended the event, died on 30 March after contracting Covid-19.

Earlier in April, News24 reported Health Minister Zweli Mkhize previously said 1 600 of the 1 700 people who came into contact with 859 people who attended a massive church, have been traced.

Mkhize also attributed the sharp increase in cases in the Free State to the church gathering.

As of Sunday, there were 96 confirmed cases in the province.

East London prison

On Sunday, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola confirmed 26 cases have been detected in the female section of the East London Correctional Centre.

Lamola, who visited the prison on Sunday, said 23 correctional services officials and three inmates tested positive for the virus.

"The positive cases follow mass screenings that the Eastern Cape region embarked upon at the Medium C Female Centre after the first positive case was recorded on 6 April.

READ | 23 officials, 3 prisoners test positive for Covid-19 at East London prison

"The official, who tested positive, attended a funeral, where she interacted with people from overseas."

Lamola said 30 officials, who came into contact with their colleague, were requested to self-quarantine when it was a presumptive case.

The second positive case was confirmed on 8 April after an official, who sought out the services of a private laboratory, received her results.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) embarked on a mass screening of 268 inmates at the facility and tested 30 who showed symptoms of Covid-19 on 8 and 9 April.

Lamola added 266 officials working at the East London Correctional Centre were also tested.

"This number is inclusive of the 92 officials from the Medium C Female Centre. Yesterday [Saturday], 193 offenders were tested at Medium C Female Centre for Covid-19 and the remaining 46 offenders will be tested tomorrow [Monday]."

As of Sunday, there were 88 cases of Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape.

St Augustine's Hospital

On Wednesday, News24 reported a Covid-19 outbreak at St Augustine's Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal was being investigated after 47 staff members tested positive for the virus. At the time, four people had died at the hospital.

In a statement, Netcare CEO Richard Friedland confirmed the outbreak, saying 33 of the 47 infected staffers were self-isolating, while the remaining 14 were being "accommodated" at Netcare's facility "to ensure they are able to safely self-quarantine".

READ | Covid-19: 4 die from virus at St Augustine's Hospital, Durban, as 47 staffers test positive

At the time of the report, Friedland said 15 patients, who tested positive for the virus, were accommodated at the hospital. One of them has since recovered and tested negative.

A team of epidemiology and infectious disease specialists have been tasked to fully investigate the underlying cause and nature of the outbreak.

The hospital is now in the process of contacting all patients, who have been treated in its emergency department since 1 March, to determine if they require testing.

It is now closed to all new patients.

Elsewhere in the country, as of Sunday, Limpopo had 23 positive cases, Mpumalanga 21, the North West 19 and Northern Cape 16, while 15 cases have not been allocated.

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