City’s hotspot strat­egy a fail­ure, say doc­tors

Cape Argus - - FRONT PAGE - MWANGI GITHAHU mwangi.githahu@inl.co.za

THE City’s Covid-19 strat­egy has failed the most vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties of the Cape Flats, par­tic­u­larly the el­derly, ac­cord­ing to a group of doc­tors and com­mu­nity work­ers from Ravens­mead.

Ab­dul Kader Sablay and Mo­hammed Jaf­fer, who both prac­tice in the area and set up the Flat­ten Covid Task Group, said that had the City and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments con­sulted with com­mu­nity doc­tors, the area might have avoided many in­fec­tions and be­ing clas­si­fied as a Covid-19 hotspot.

Sablay said: “Upon see­ing the spike Covid-19 ill­nesses among our pa­tients as we en­tered level 4 eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, we also re­alised that de­spite our area be­ing iden­ti­fied as a hotspot there was no plan for re­duc­ing the in­fec­tion rate in our area.

“Our plan in­volved draw­ing up a task team and mo­bil­is­ing im­por­tant role-play­ers in the com­mu­nity, in a strat­egy to curb the high in­fec­tion rate in the area.

“We would have en­sured greater ad­her­ence to the en­force­ment of so­cial dis­tanc­ing and other mea­sures needed to pre­vent the spread be­cause un­like po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, we have the com­mu­nity’s trust. When the au­thor­i­ties re­sponded to us in

June, a month af­ter we had asked for as­sis­tance, we felt the re­sponse was too lit­tle too late.”

Jaf­fer added: “No­body took us se­ri­ously… The peo­ple dic­tat­ing pol­icy at the time were… lead­ing from their of­fices. We were on the front line fight­ing with pen knives, and yet it was us and our fam­i­lies who were be­ing sac­ri­ficed.”

Sablay and Jaf­fer, along with their spouses, con­tracted the virus, and all ex­cept Sablay’s wife, who re­mains in ICU, have re­cov­ered.

Mayco mem­ber for Health, Zahid Badroo­d­ien, said: “The test­ing strat­egy is de­ter­mined by the West­ern Cape gov­ern­ment and the City de­liv­ers spe­cific ser­vices in sup­port of this strat­egy.

“The City has also shared the fol­low­ing in­for­ma­tion with Dr Sablay: the City has im­ple­mented com­mu­nity based teams across all wards and sub-coun­cils to close the com­mu­ni­ca­tion gap be­tween the po­lit­i­cal, ad­min­is­tra­tive and com­mu­nity lead­ers.”

Rachel Wind­vo­gel, ANC pro­vin­cial spokesper­son on health, added: “If the gov­ern­ment had put stricter mea­sures in place to pre­vent the virus, many lives would have been saved.”

EFF’s Me­likhaya Xego said: “The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment was con­cerned more about big busi­nesses clos­ing down rather than… lim­it­ing the vi­ral trans­mis­sion.”

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