A woman who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) is allegedly defying her self-quarantine measures, according to Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba.
At a media briefing on Monday, Gomba said the East London woman allegedly claimed to be exercising her right to freedom of movement.
The unnamed woman, who is Eastern Cape’s patient one, tested positive recently after a trip to Germany.
‘Patient one’s rights cannot override rights of others’
Gomba said, “[She] places people at unnecessary risk and as such, we want to call on law enforcement agencies to deal decisively with anyone found to be in contravention of the national state of disaster regulations that have been gazetted.
“Our view is very clear: her rights as a citizen cannot override the rights of all citizens and laws of the land.”
A provincial health official, Dr Nozipho Jaxa, told DispatchLIVE that the department is having “discussions” about isolating patient one in a “facility.”
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that as of Monday afternoon, South Africa had 402 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Eastern Cape now has two cases.
What the regulations say
On 19 March, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma published regulations on the national state of disaster.
Regulation 4 deals with the “refusal of medical examination, prophylaxis, treatment, isolation and quarantine.”
In a statement, Dr Dlamini-Zuma said, “This regulation makes provision for the unlikely scenario where a person refuses to (self) quarantine or (self) isolate.”
She added, “The person may then be placed in isolation or quarantine for a period of 48 hours, as the case may be, pending a warrant being issued by a magistrate, on application by an enforcement officer, to perform the medical examination of a suspected or confirmed case.”
In a similar case in Gauteng last week, the provincial health department obtained a court order after a family that had tested positive allegedly refused to be quarantined.
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.”