In­fected men held for spread­ing virus

Lady­smith busi­ness­man ar­rested, tourist nabbed by health of­fi­cials in St Lu­cia

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - SE-ANNE RALL, KAILENE PIL­LAY and LYSE COMINS

TWO KwaZulu-Na­tal men who tested pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus but failed to ad­here to strict quar­an­tine rules are fac­ing at­tempted mur­der charges.

A 52-year-old busi­ness­man was ar­rested late yes­ter­day af­ter­noon at his Lady­smith home, while a tourist who had trav­elled from the Kruger Na­tional Park to St Lu­cia was nabbed by a trac­ing team and health of­fi­cials and placed in quar­an­tine.

The ar­rested man, who had re­cently re­turned to South Africa from a trip over­seas, did not self-iso­late or go for the Covid-19 test as pre­scribed by govern­ment reg­u­la­tions.

Na­tional po­lice spokesper­son, Bri­gadier Vish Naidoo, con­firmed the charges.

Dur­ing a me­dia brief­ing last night, Po­lice Min­is­ter Bheki Cele said the law would act “and very harshly” against peo­ple who broke the reg­u­la­tions.

Naidoo said the po­lice had been in­formed that the busi­ness­man had come into contact with sev­eral res­i­dents in Lady­smith.

“The same man had trav­elled from various coun­tries to South Africa. On his re­turn on March 18, he tested pos­i­tive for Covid-19 and was in­structed to self-quar­an­tine for at least 14 days, pend­ing the blood results.

“How­ever, he al­legedly con­tin­ued with his busi­ness and in do­ing so dis­re­garded the in­struc­tions of a doc­tor.

“In do­ing so, he al­legedly con­tra­vened the reg­u­la­tions in terms of the Na­tional Dis­as­ter Act per­tain­ing to Covid-19,” said Naidoo.

The man was ar­rested and taken to a hospi­tal where he was be­ing treated, added Naidoo.

He said a list of 27 peo­ple who fre­quented the sus­pect’s place of busi­ness, and those with whom he had in­ter­acted at a re­li­gious gath­er­ing, were ur­gently be­ing sought by the trac­ing team for test­ing.

“The mat­ter was dis­cussed with the se­nior pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor for (the case) to be post­poned in ab­sen­tia to avoid fur­ther con­tam­i­na­tion,” Naidoo said.

In the sec­ond case, Naidoo said the tourist was on holiday in the Kruger Na­tional Park when he tested pos­i­tive for Covid-19.

“He was in­structed to re­main in his lodge in the park. In­stead, the tourist ig­nored the in­struc­tion and left the park and pro­ceeded to St Lu­cia in KwaZulu-Na­tal (near Mtu­batuba), where he ap­par­ently in­ter­acted with an un­known num­ber of peo­ple,” Naidoo said.

He said the Department of Health had traced the tourist to holiday ac­com­mo­da­tion in St Lu­cia and im­me­di­ately quar­an­tined him at a hospi­tal.

“There is now an ex­ten­sive drive by the Department of Health and po­lice to trace those who the in­fected tourist came into contact with.

“The tourist has not yet been charged as he went into quar­an­tine be­fore the po­lice could en­gage him,” Naidoo said.

SA Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion vice-chair­per­son, Dr Mvuy­isa Mzukwa, said it was im­por­tant for peo­ple to comply with quar­an­tine re­quire­ments as re­search had shown that asymp­to­matic pa­tients could trans­fer the virus.

“You can trans­fer dis­eases to oth­ers even if you don’t have symp­toms, which is why it’s im­por­tant to self-quar­an­tine and to pro­tect your own fam­ily by washing hands and throw­ing away tis­sues in the dust­bin,” he said.

“The virus is spread by body flu­ids like mu­cus through cough­ing, sneez­ing and saliva, so when you sneeze it can go into the air,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the Covid-19 govern­ment reg­u­la­tions, re­fusal of med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion, pro­phy­laxis, treat­ment, iso­la­tion and quar­an­tine is an of­fence.

They state that any per­son con­firmed to be in­fected with the virus who does not comply with the in­struc­tions of an en­force­ment of­fi­cer could be slapped with a fine or with im­pris­on­ment for up to six months, or to both a fine and im­pris­on­ment.

Last week, Gaut­eng po­lice had to se­cure a court or­der to force a Jo­han­nes­burg fam­ily into quar­an­tine.

The fam­ily had re­fused to be quar­an­tined af­ter they were con­firmed to be in­fected with the coro­n­avirus.

A BILL­BOARD in­stalled on an apart­ment build­ing in Cape Town urges peo­ple to heed the call to stay at home dur­ing the 21-day na­tion­wide lock­down, which starts at mid­night, to fight the spread of the coro­n­avirus. The coun­try had 709 Covid-19 cases yes­ter­day. | Ar­mand Hough African News Agency (ANA)

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