Covid-19: it’s getting worse
Leaked email revealed BMW staffer tested positive on return to SA from overseas trip
BMW Group South Africa, which has a large manufacturing plant in Rosslyn, yesterday confirmed that an employee tested positive for coronavirus (Covid19).
In a leaked email circulated to staff, management said the worker had returned from an overseas trip on Sunday and immediately went for treatment.
BMW Group South Africa spokesperson Hailey Philander said: “The employee did not come to work and has been under treatment since Monday.”
Philander would, however, not disclose whether it was an employee from the BMW Rosslyn plant.
“I cannot disclose such information at this moment. We need to respect the privacy of the patient and the family.”
The email, dated March 11, said: “We can confirm that a BMW South Africa colleague has been diagnosed with the coronavirus (Covid-19) after travelling overseas… The colleague has not been in any of our offices since returning to South Africa. In view of the developments, BMW South Africa is initiating further measures to protect its employee. Any possible affected areas will be closed off and disinfected.”
BMW said it had identified those who possibly were in direct or indirect contact with the affected colleague and requested them to undergo the 14-day self-quarantine or monitoring.
Meanwhile, a special Cabinet meeting has been planned in Tshwane on Sunday to discuss matters related to the coronavirus pandemic, including travel bans, public leisure, faith-based or sporting events.
Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said it was normal for Cabinet meetings to have a particular agenda. He said the Cabinet had at its meeting on Wednesday not expressed views on travel bans. “We can assure you that after this meeting on Sunday, we will be able to answer some of the questions we are not able to answer here.”
Mthembu urged the public not to visit the site of quarantine of the 122 South Africans repatriated from the epicentre of the coronavirus in China.
They are expected in the country today after the repatriation team and SAA crew left for China on Tuesday.
Lesotho is also considering sealing its borders in a bid to keep the virus out of its country.
THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has finally declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after blaming “alarming levels of inaction” by governments across the planet for fuelling the crisis.
As the number of confirmed cases of the bug worldwide surpassed 112 000 – and the death toll neared 4 500 – the WHO said it was “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity”.
Director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also blasted governments for ignoring repeated WHO pleas to take urgent and aggressive action, with cases of the deadly illness outside of China having risen 13-fold in the space of a fortnight because of escalating crises in Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany and France.
The WHO said: “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.”
In a desperate call for governments to band together and tackle the coronavirus, Adhanom said: “We’re in this together, to do the right things with calm and protect the citizens of the world. It’s doable.”
The last pandemic – defined as the uncontrolled worldwide spread of a new disease – to be officially declared was the swine flu outbreak in 2009, which scientists estimate killed hundreds of thousands of people.
More than 125 000 people globally have already been infected with the coronavirus, which can cause pneumonia but causes mild flu-like symptoms for 98% of patients.
Cases slowed dramatically in China, where the virus emerged at the end of December. However, the crisis has now enveloped Europe, where the number of cases rises by the day.
Nearly 60 million Italians – whose country is the worst-hit by the infection after China – are subject to an official curfew imposed on them by the government.
Outbreaks are also worsening in Spain, France, Germany and the UK where the health minister is one of its victims.
In South Africa, as those repatriated from Wuhan, China, are due back today, the government has called on its citizens not to risk travel to countries where there has been a communal outbreak.
MANY are wearing face masks to help protect themselves. The number of reported cases in the country now stands at 16.
DR TEDROS Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, informs the media about the last updates regarding Covid-19 during a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
A WOMAN wears a protective face mask in Turin, Italy, as people queue at a supermarket to stock up after the government put the whole country on lockdown as new cases surge. A medic checks the temperature of a driver coming from Italy.