Has the feared novel coronavirus, Covid-19, finally entered Newcastle? Does the Newcastle community have to take measures to protect themselves from the virus which is spreading like wildfire around the globe?
Mediclinic Newcastle, Newcastle Hospital and Madadeni Hospital have all confirmed that the cases have not come through their doors.
“We did recently have suspected cases, where the patients displayed one or two of the symptoms. We took the necessary swabs and ensured they contact the number provided by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). However, there have been no confirmed cases to date,” says a source from Madadeni Hospital.
The search for confirmation of Covid-19 in Newcastle began through a site named coronaviruslive.co.za, which stated there are three confirmed cases in Newcastle.
The site claims there are at least three people who have been put in some form of quarantine.
This includes all people who came in contact with the confirmed case, along with all healthcare staff who are treating the confirmed case. However, the information on the site seems to be false, with the site deactivated during the course of the day.
However, with 62 confirmed cases in South Africa and with over 185 300 cases worldwide and over 7 300 deaths, a deep sense of fear surrounds Covid-19.
With the Covid-19 spreading far and wide, Newcastle Mayor Cllr Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba says the Newcastle Municipality, welcomes the president’s clarion call to take drastic measures to manage the COVID-19.
“We commit to working with other stakeholders in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. As mayor, and the collective leadership of our municipality, we vow to put in place strident measures that will protect our residents and reduce any form of impact of the virus within our municipality from spreading.”
As a people-orientated municipality, Cllr Mahlaba says the municipality has begun the processes of educating residents about the virus.
“Flyers and posters have been made available to our residents at the municipal building, this in a bid to equip our people with the required knowledge to manage the disease. The municipal communication team has also been tasked to communicate with the residents of any developments pertaining the COVID-19. We’ve also taken a posture to abandon the usage of breathalysers on our roads until the virus has been eradicated,” Mayor Mahlaba adds.
He explains that he has been made aware of the urgent need to educate residents about the stigma and stereotype attached to those who have contracted the virus.
“The outbreak has provoked social discriminatory behaviours against people of certain ethnic backgrounds, as well as anyone perceived to have been in contact with the virus. As a municipality, we condemn anyone who discriminates against victims of this virus and we call upon our residents to practice empathy during this difficult period. Let us unite once more, work together to triumph over this new deadly disease.”
Dr Mahlaba says he also welcomes the implementation of tighter additional measures as part of government’s Integrated National Response Plan.
“I urge residents to practice cleanliness, particularly the constant washing of hands with soap. We will also adhere to the president’s call to halt gatherings of more than a hundred people and will also closely monitor other events championed by the municipality. We are also exploring the possibility of postponing a number of key upcoming events which needed the community’s participation.”
Due to the seriousness of Covid-19, Dr Mahlaba says he urges residents to seek medical care immediately after developing symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
“If you think you might have contracted the virus, you can call the National Institute of Communicable Diseases NICD helpline (0800 029 999) and you will be advised on possible testing facilities.”
The municipality will also communicate all changes of planned programs with residents on all its communication platforms. The municipality encourages residents to make use of the municipal Facebook page, as most developments will be communicated there.
“This is our fight, all of us, and as a medical doctor, I’m available for the task at hand. I’m forever willing to serve my community to the best of my ability,” Dr Mahlaba concludes.
If you suspect you have come into contact with someone who has the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, what steps do you need to take?
If you suspect you have come into contact with Covid-19, contact the NICD’s 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999.
What you need to know about how Covid-19 spreads:
Coronaviruses are a large number of viruses which may cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The virus spreads when droplets from an infected person get into the eyes, nose and mouth of a healthy person.
Sometimes, a sick person’s salvia can get into contact with their hands, doors, an array of devices, computer mouse, cups, pens, handrails and utensils.
According to the NICD, there are precautions you can follow to avoid being infected. These precautions are as follows:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap, before and after being out in public.
- Practice good personal hygiene. This includes covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Don’t touch your face when your hands have not been washed.
- Do not share food and utensils, as bacteria can be transmitted onto knives, forks, spoons and straws. Also, avoid sharing drinks.
Symptoms of Covid-19 include:
- Shortness of breath
Residents and businesses are encouraged to practice caution during these difficult times, ensuring the wellbeing of theirs and their families health, as well as that of their staff and clientele.