Two weeks of quarantine and still no lab results

The Eastern Cape accounted for 22,802 of the backlog by May 25, meaning the number of confirmed cases is likely to rise as these specimens are processed. Image: 123RF/ADZIC NATASA
The Covid-19 testing backlog is so huge that people suspected to be infected with the cororanvirus are completing the mandatory two-week quarantine period with their results yet to come back.

Among those who have been waiting for their results are nine members of the Nodwezana family in Cala, who finished their 14 days in quarantine without knowing if they had tested positive or not.

However, one of the family members and another from a neighbouring village escaped from the B&B where they were quarantined about five days before completing their time.

The health department let the eight remaining people go back home after finishing the 14 days in quarantine.

Last week, health minister Zweli Mkhize announced that there was a testing backlog of 96,480 unprocessed specimens in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State.

The Eastern Cape accounted for 22,802 of the backlog by May 25, meaning the number of confirmed cases is likely to rise as these specimens are processed.

At the time of writing on Sunday, the Eastern Cape had 3,759 confirmed cases, 82 deaths and 1,987 recoveries. This means 1,772 active cases.

The Cala family was quarantined after Thumeka Nodwezana, 50, tested positive after attending a relative’s funeral in April.

She told DispatchLIVE her sister and eight other family members, the youngest eight years old, were “locked up” in a B&B in Cala from May 16 to Saturday, when they were discharged, all without their results coming back.

“They were forced to go to a B&B called Sinako in town but they don’t know anything because they are not being told anything,” she said.

“The whole thing has been traumatic for them.”

“Once the community knows that there are people quarantined in their area they protest. It’s our biggest challenge as other people might not want to use the business again, fearing for their own safety.”

She said 10 people were released from the B&B on Saturday.

This was confirmed by health MEC Sindiswa Gomba’s spokesperson, Judy Ngoloyi, who said the family had been discharged because they were asymptomatic.

Nodwezana said their ordeal with health officials had started on May 5, 19 days after she attended a funeral in Bhobhotyana village.

She was confronted by health officials who came to her village and told her to test for Covid-19. They wanted to know if she was among the people who had cooked during the funeral, but she told them she had only attended the funeral service.

“They were rude and unprofessional.”

She was discharged on May 16.

However, a day later health officials took her 59-year-old sister and eight children to the quarantine facility.

“My sister wanted to know why they had to go to a B&B but they did not provide any explanation and there was an argument as some of the children refused to go.”

Ngoloyi said family members were taken to the B&B after they were found roaming around the township despite being told to self-isolate.

One of the nine quarantined, Asanda Nkuzo, confirmed they were discharged on Saturday and added that one family member and another man in quarantine had escaped on May 25 and 26.

She said the B&B was not even cleaned during their stay.

“We have been asking about our results, but they tell us they will inform us when they arrive,” she said. ​

Ngoloyi dismissed the claims that the B&B was not kept clean.

“You can’t quarantine people and not follow up on them. This was done daily.”

By Sikho Ntshobane

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