A sense of fear and anxiety lurks within Newcastle, with one possible confirmed COVID-19 case in Newcastle. This follows a woman testing positive at a private lab.
The suspected patient is in isolation, awaiting test results from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) to determine if she does indeed have the feared virus.
As of Sunday, March 22, the NICD confirms 34 new additional cases that have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 274.
With the increase in cases, the Newcastle Municipality is taking steps to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
Newcastle Mayor Cllr Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba, together with the Executive Committee have resolved restrictions must be imposed on all public facilities immediately.
According to a statement issued by Newcastle Municipality’s Communications Department, these restrictions include swimming pools, museums, art galleries, halls and libraries.
Furthermore, the Council is also immediately implementing the following measures:
All front-line municipal staff and public participation staff will be provided with face masks, gloves and hand sanitizers. This is aimed at preventing staff members from spreading the virus or contracting the virus from members of the public or vice versa.
The municipality will immediately disable its finger biometrics system. Despite the drastic measures, the municipality will maintain its standard of strict security. The municipality will constantly sanitize daily used equipment, including buttons and bells.
The municipality discourages public gatherings. It calls upon the community to adhere to the president’s calls of not having crowded gatherings.
The municipality is working on a plan to minimize queues on all its service tills or offices. Access to the municipal building will be tightly monitored.
State of the town address/roadshows:
The Executive Committee, together with the mayor have decisively resolved to postpone the state of the town address and all budget roadshows.
The municipal traffic department was instructed to abandon the usage of the breathalyser. However, traffic officials will continue monitoring and conducting road stops.
Water and sanitizers to be provided at the cemeteries.
Mahlaba adds that the Newcastle Municipality urges residents to ensure they always follow the necessary precautionary measures to minimise the chances of exposing themselves to COVID-19. He also urges people to self-quarantine if they suspect they might have contracted the virus and seek medical attention once a person shows early symptoms of the virus.
“We reiterate our call to community members not to panic. We also discourage the act of bulk buying, as this is unfair, especially towards the less fortunate. The municipality will constantly work on new means of curbing the spread of the virus. We urge our residents to work with us and we will constantly keep the public updated of new developments,” concludes Dr Mahlaba.
With medical professionals working on the situation, the Newcastle community is urged to reman calm.