Alexandra, Johannesburg. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/MOELETSI MABE
Alexandra, Johannesburg. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/MOELETSI MABE

Field workers descended on the sprawling Alexandra township in Johannesburg on Tuesday to roll out the government’s screening and testing programme aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.

On Monday, the Gauteng health department confirmed a coronavirus case in Alex. On the same day, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation that the government would roll out a large-scale screening, testing, tracing and medical management programme to help manage the spread of the coronavirus. He said about 10,000 field workers will be visiting homes in villages, towns and cities to screen residents for Covid-19 symptoms.

People with the symptoms will be referred to local or mobile clinics for testing. People who are infected but who have no or moderate symptoms, will remain in isolation at home or at a facility provided by the government, the president said. He said  those with severe symptoms will be transferred to hospitals.

Gauteng premier David Makhura joined the field workers as they went about testing Alexandra residents on Monday.

Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, has been confirmed in at least 1,326 people in SA and has resulted in three deaths so far.

On Monday, Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku’s spokesperson Kwara Kekana confirmed that five people are under quarantine after being in close contact with the  confirmed case in Alexandra.

Kekana said the person in Alexandra was instructed to remain under self-isolation. “On positive confirmation of results, our team of tracers, working with law enforcement agencies, tracked the confirmed case to Limpopo,” she said. “He had disregarded an instruction [to stay in Gauteng] and travelled outside the province last week before the lockdown. He is now under isolation in a health facility in Limpopo.”

Kekana said all known close contacts of the confirmed case have already been identified, tested and are in quarantine pending results. She said the tracing team will continue to work on the tracking and tracing of other possible contacts.

“We are urging communities to take heed of the lockdown measures and act responsibly, so that together we can contain and prevent further spread of Covid-19.”

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za