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Free State health workers fully recover from COVID-19

Staff Reporter

At least seven health workers in the Free State who had tested positive for COVID-19 have fully recovered in the last two months have fully recovered from the deadly disease, the provincial health department has said.

The department’s spokesperson however told The Free Stater that a medical doctor unfortunately lost the battle to the disease a few weeks ago after his condition worsened.

“Eight health professionals were exposed to COVID-19,” Mondli Mvambi in a written response to questions from this publication.

“One nurse from Medi-Clinic recovered, a health professional at Rosepark and another health professional at Pasteur also recovered. Four other health professionals were infected at Medi-Clinic but have fully recovered. Unfortunately one doctor died at Medi-Clinic,” he added.

None of the nurses in the public health sector in the province have contracted the coronavirus which causes COVID-19, a highly infectious disease.

Most people who fall sick with COVID-19 experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without special treatment.

However, the disease can lead to acute respiratory complications if one has an underlying health condition or compromised immunity.

The coronavirus is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales.

These droplets are said to be too heavy to hang in the air, and usually settle on nearby surfaces

One can be infected by breathing in the virus if within close proximity to someone with COVID-19, or by touching contaminated surfaces and then your eyes, nose or mouth, hence it is important to practise social distancing, wear face masks and wash or sanitise hands regularly.

Mvambi said the province has been able to protect health professionals and the general public from the disease by rapidly increasing the department’s capacity to trace, screen and test contacts as soon as the first case was reported in the province at the end of March.

“We quarantined the persons who were described as contacts who might have been with people who happened to test positive including their close contacts as part of ensuring that we minimise the spread,” he said.

“We aggressively traced the source that was linked to a health professional at Medi-Clinic which resulted in us screening and testing about 1 110 people at Brandwag Primary School. Then it was the Divine Restoration Church and other churches who were contacts of this church,” he said.

There was panic across the province when it emerged that five overseas guests who attended a religious conference at the Divine Restoration Church had tested positive to COVID-19, prompting the health department to implement a massive exercise to trace, screen and test all those attended the event and their immediate contacts.

“Ours was believed to be an explosive eruption that would impact on great numbers because many people got infected at once from the same source. We reacted rapidly . . . this has been our approach throughout all the cases that we have encountered,” said the spokesperson.

He said the tracer teams used digital mapping with the help of cellphone companies to map the movement of those who attended the church conference and their close contacts.

“This digital mapping was done in full respect and non breaches to the PoPI ACT (Protection of Personal Information Act). We established a dedicated call centre which would help with general enquiries regarding public concern about the prevalence or the potential of COVID-19 in their communities,” said Mvambi.

He said multi-disciplinary working streams were established to look at the work that needed to done at the provincial epicentre, Bloemfontein.

This, he said, was replicated in the other four districts in the Free State to ensure a similar incident would not happen.

The Free State has since contained the situation and now has 135 confirmed cases of COVID-19 while the country has a total of 11 350.

The province has recorded six deaths and about 105 people have recovered, leaving the province with at least 24 active cases.

Nationally, there have been 4 357 recoveries.

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