Testing in Alexandra and other townships countrywide continued on Tuesday, with residents' fears ranging from what they would do if they contracted the virus, to where their next meals would come from
Only a few dozen Alexandra residents in Johannesburg braved the cold on Tuesday to visit the local community health centre, one of several Covid-19 mobile testing sites.
While many were there to access various other healthcare services at the centre, those who met certain criteria during the screening process were referred to the testing site over the past two days.
The area is in Johannesburg’s District E – which consists of Sandton, Wynberg, Alexandra and other suburbs – which is the virus epicentre in Gauteng, with 253 cases according to government’s latest data.
Nothemba Ntambo, 28, said she lived in daily fear of catching the virus because she worked at a local supermarket, where unlike the major franchise stores, optimum precautionary measures were not always taken at the store.
“It is a scary time for all of us but especially those who have been working all along during the lockdown. Sometimes, when they run out of the masks, we must buy our own masks. We ride taxis and stand in lines for everything and it’s not always easy to keep social distance. That is why I took the first chance I got to see if I can get tested.”
Life had slowly begun to return to the relatively quiet streets of the township with a moderate amount of pedestrian traffic, taxis and a few cars breaking the general silence. People complained of jobs that may never be recovered as they waited in line to enter the clinic.
Like thousands of destitute Joburgers, Samson Ngwenya, a 37-year-old informal recycling trader, awaited the return of various industries to reopen. His daily routine collecting recyclable plastics along London Road and other parts of Alex and surrounds was severely impacted during the lockdown, with little to collect from the industrial part of the township and virtually nowhere to sell it.
Some of his friends who also depended on the informal waste trade for income had been forced to beg for money and food, despite the large-scale food parcel distributions by government and civil society organisations.
“Even if you can give me something I will be happy because I don’t eat every day,” Ngwenya appealed in isiZulu. “It is not just the disease that is dangerous, we are also hungry and we have no jobs.”
The Zimbabwean complained that only those who were South African or had the correct documents were allowed to receive food parcels. “I don’t have a birth certificate, because when I came to Johannesburg in 2015, it was a difficult journey and many of my belongings were stolen and lost.”
Since the inception of the Gauteng health department’s rollout of community and mobile testing drives, 2,611 people were tested. Only 15 were subsequently quarantined.
The province had by Monday recorded 876 recoveries, eight deaths and 1,353 cases. Over 8,000 people had been listed by tracers as having had contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19, but 5,204 of these had already de-isolated after remaining asymptomatic for the 14-day self- isolation period.
According to department spokesperson Kwara Kekana, the response from various, mostly vulnerable communities where the tests were being conducted had been positive.
“The department has received positive responses from the community facilities as well as in areas where we have set up mobile testing sites and as part of the massive screening campaigns. We would like to thank the responsive communities and the individuals that have come out to be screened and those that have been referred for testing.”
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