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Staff Reporter

The church conference held at the Divine Restoration Ministries in Bloemfontein earlier this month could have fuelled the rate of internal transmissions in Mangaung, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has said.

In a daily update on COVID-19 cases released late Friday, the minister said it has been observed that while initial cases reported in South Africa involved people who had travelled overseas, latest indications are that people with no history of foreign travel were now testing positive for the coronavirus, proving an increase in internal transmissions.

“There is an increase in the rate of internal transmissions,” said Mkhize in the statement which revealed the country now has 1 170 confirmed cases of the disease.

The Free State now has 61 cases.

“Patients without a history of travelling abroad have been detected in many provinces. The Free State province is such an example. The majority of the 61 patients infected arose from the church conference which had five international visitors who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19,” he added.

The minister said the province, particularly the Mangaung Metro, urgently needs dedicated interventions to contain the spreading of the disease given that most of the infections emanate from a church gathering with a concentration of people in one area,” said Mkhize.

“It must be noted that these confirmed cases in the Free State province are concentrated in Mangaung and this requires dedicated focus of interventions.

All the above factors have emphasised the need to rapidly expand testing, early detection and early treatment. We are intensifying the offensive.”

Several church leaders attended the Bloemfontein convention and they have since tested positive for COVID 19.

That, said Mkhize, made their own church members direct contacts.

The Free State health department recently said it had screened and tested about 360 people believed to have made contact with the five overseas guests at the church gathering who eventually tested positive after showing symptoms. They are currently in quarantine.

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