Western Cape Premier Alan Winde. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN

Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo is in self-quarantine after close contact with the French consul general in Cape Town, who has tested positive for Covid-19.

She is the first South African politician to have to take such a step, as the country’s outbreak escalates and local transmission increases. The first confirmed case of Covid-19 was announced by health minister Zweli Mkhize on March 5, and the number had climbed to 116 by Wednesday morning. Initially all the cases were among people who had travelled outside SA, but the first cases of local transmission — which now stand at 14 — were confirmed on Tuesday night.

French consul general Laurent Amar took to social media on Wednesday afternoon to announce that he had tested positive for Covid-19, saying on Twitter that he wanted to share the information with all his potential contacts. Mbombo had been in contact with him two days before he showed symptoms, according to a statement released on Wednesday evening by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde.

Winde said he had been advised by medical experts that he did not need to self-quarantine or be tested at this stage, despite having been exposed to her during the course of the day.

The premier said he had already taken steps to work from home, in line with the advice issued by the provincial government to businesses earlier this week.

“I have been fully enabled to work from home, and will be doing so from this afternoon. My office has already prepared for me to take my important meetings over the phone, and I will be hosting the cabinet meeting and other engagements over teleconferencing. I believe this is an effective and innovative way for us to conduct our business going forward, and once again implore all businesses that can allow some or all of their employees to work from home, to do so,” he said.

France is one of the 10 countries from which non-South African travellers have been banned as part of the government’s new travel restrictions, announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of a package of measures intended slow the spread of the virus. The French embassy in SA has advised French travellers to leave SA as soon as possible and return to France, and for French nationals living in SA to restrict their travels as much as possible.