Infected men held for spreading virus
Ladysmith businessman arrested, tourist nabbed by health officials in St Lucia
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)