Covid-19 causes panic

People are encouraged to regularly wash and sanitise their hands.

Dunoon and Joe Slovo residents fear the Covid-19 pandemic will spread like wildfire if it hits their townships.

Their cramped living conditions and the prevalence of TB make them much more vulnerable to infection and death, they say.

These neighbourhoods are high-risk, according to ward councillor, Wandisile Ngeyi, who wants all arms of government to roll out protective measures – including mobile clinics – for vulnerable communities.

Joe Slovo resident Mzimkhulu Sopeni says if one of them catches Covid-19 there will be no stopping it because many in the neighbourhood have TB.

“It would be a disaster if the virus were to get contracted by someone that lives in our area. The sad thing is that it would be near impossible to avoid getting it because of the living conditions we are in.

“Joe Slovo and Dunoon are in danger because we have industrial areas near us. We also have an informal trading market where people sell second-hand clothes and often these clothes come from people in affluent areas who are the people who travel and contract the virus. And we know that the virus stays on surfaces and clothing.”

Dunoon resident Sandiswa Keteyi is a domestic worker in Pinelands.

“I am scared because I don’t know if I will contract the virus and come back home and pass it on to my children. But I have to keep working because, as you know, the schools will be closing and I have to get someone to look after my children.”

Mr Ngeyi said he had long been pushing for mobile clinics in the area. Serious consideration should be given to that proposal now that a state of disaster had been declared.

“The people in those vulnerable areas already have a lot to deal with like sewage issues, housing and not enough schools for the children. An outbreak of this virus would have devastating consequences.”

Meanwhile, the Table View Neighbourhood Watch has cancelled meetings and member sign-ups as a precaution. The watch’s chairman, Grant Lemos, said patrols would continue but anyone feeling sick would be asked to stay home.

“We have asked members that are feeling under the weather to stay home just to be safe. I am concerned though about the informal areas. I think the government could do more to educate people in the townships. Can you imagine if the virus were to break out in a place like Site 5?”

While schools closed from today until after the Easter holidays to prevent the spread of the virus, a Table View creche, Little Learners Childcare, had already closed from Monday March 16 after being alerted that a parent had come into contact with a co-worker who had tested positive for Covid-19.

“We decided to take precautionary measures and want to make it clear that there is no Covid-19 outbreak at the school,” said principal Chantelle Dammarell.

Melkbosstrand High School principal Daneil Ross said the school’s planned hockey and rugby tour of the Netherlands this month had been postponed.

“We will assess the situation again when the schools reopen in the new term and figure out new dates for our events. The priority now is the safety of our children and staff,” he said.