The Gauteng Department of Health says it was forced to obtain a court order after a family that had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) allegedly refused to be quarantined.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the Department said it had to enlist the help of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to trace the family.
It said, “We can confirm that there was a family that refused to be quarantined. The wife and daughter tested positive for the virus while the husband refused to be tested and left the hospital without swabs being taken.”
SAPS locates family
“The Department approached the court last night on an urgent basis in order to ensure that we don’t interfere with the constitutional rights of the patients without a court order,” the Department added.
It said it successfully obtained the court order at “1am this morning” and requested the SAPS to help trace the family.
The SAPS managed to find them at 12:30pm on Tuesday and took them to a designated health facility.
The Department urged members of the public to cooperate with healthcare workers, as this would help combat the virus.
SAPS commended for swift action
It said, “We wish to commend the SAPS for swiftly attending to the matter. As President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday, we need to work together to fight this pandemic.”
This appears to be the first instance of resistance to quarantine in South Africa since the first coronavirus case was confirmed almost two weeks ago.
According to updates from Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, many of the patients have been placed on self-quarantine.
About 114 South Africans repatriated from Wuhan in China, who tested negative, are also in quarantine at the Ranch Resort in Limpopo as a precautionary measure.
During a media briefing on Monday, Mkhize said the risk of internal transmission of the virus “is now setting in.”
He added, “Once this infection starts spreading in taxis and buses, it will create a new dynamic.
“The reality is this, for now, individuals that have been infected thus far are people who can afford going on holiday abroad or they travel for business. Those individuals also have accommodation to self-quarantine.
“However, when this outbreak starts affecting our poor communities where families do not have enough rooms or spaces to quarantine those infected, we will experience a crisis. Therefore, it is important for us to start preparing accommodation for such an eventuality.”