KwaZulu-Natal’s department of health says it is preparing for the worst should the coronavirus spread to informal settlements.
Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said her office was working with the departments of economic development and human settles to formulate a plan to deal with this.
“We are looking at different areas of isolation and different areas of quarantining. In a case where one positive case is identified in an informal settlement we are then going to be forced to remove everyone who is affected in that area. We are working on a plan for what would happen if a positive case was found in an informal settlement, because our informal settlements are very close to each,” she said.
Simelane-Zulu was addressing journalists on Monday, after a national state of disaster was declared on Sunday, when 61 Covid-19 cases were confirmed.
The MEC also made it clear that her department was not afraid to forcefully remove people who did not want to go into isolation at its facilities.
“I must indicate that the law allows us, in the interest of public health, to remove someone forcefully should they not want to be removed. We have had instances where some of the patients we have dealt with refused in the past to go into isolation because they believed they could self-isolate and self-quarantine,” she said.
“The law empowers us to go to a judge should there be a case. Should it come to that we are more than willing to do it, because that will be in the interest of public health,” she added.
The province had boosted the number of isolation wards from eight to 52, with Simelane-Zulu indicating that the department wanted an isolation ward in each of its 10 districts. The Doris Goodwin TB hospital in Pietermaritzburg, Richmond Hospital and Clairwood Hospital, south of Durban, had been added as coronavirus hospitals.