While the rate of Covid-19 infections continue to rise in Nelson Mandela Bay — with 200 to 300 new cases registered daily — a fourth vehicle belonging to the Eastern Cape department of health has been hijacked.
The Covid-19 testing and tracing vehicle’s staff were allegedly hijacked at gunpoint on Thursday in Ward 19, Kwazakhele, and also robbed of their personal belongings.
Department of health spokesperson Siyanda Manana said the hijacking of department owned testing and tracing vehicles was thwarting efforts to stem the resurgence of the virus in the Bay.
There were 166 new Covid-19 cases recorded by Monday morning in the metro, Manana said.
The vehicle was later recovered by the police, with all four of its wheels missing, he said.
Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said the tracing and testing teams were vital in the department’s fight against the spread of the virus.
“These incidents happened at a time when the Nelson Mandela metro is faced with a spike in numbers of people who are Covid-19 positive,” Gomba said.
Gomba pleaded with communities to protect their staff members.
In a statement issued on Monday, Manana said the withdrawal of health staff would leave communities very vulnerable to Covid-19 infections.
“The Eastern Cape department of health is still committed to providing the best of care to the people of the metro, however, for it to provide this, it’s staff and vehicles need to be protected at all times,” Manana said.
According to Manana, areas including New Brighton and Kwazakhele were hotspots for similar incidents in the past.