The Gauteng department of health says it would like to assure residents living next to coronavirus quarantine sites that the facilities will not place other people at risk of being infected.
“We have noted that there have been concerns raised by some community members where quarantine sites are based. And, as such, we wish to reiterate that Covid-19 is not airborne and is spread mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, in the same way influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread,” department spokesperson Philani Mhlungu said.
“Furthermore, the majority of infections occur in people who come into close physical contact with people already infected by the virus.”
Mhlungu said quarantine sites were community-based facilities meant to accommodate people who were not ill (therefore asymptomatic), but who had been in contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19. As such, they might possibly become infected themselves.
“The sites also serve to host those that test positive but cannot quarantine at home. Once people are cleared of the coronavirus after waiting for [the] minimum 14-day period and have undergone testing they are then released back in their community.
“It is important for society to note that not all people at a quarantine site have Covid-19. Quarantine sites are specialised facilities that adhere to very strict management of infections to avoid spreading the virus,” Mhlungu emphasised.
“The people under investigation (PUI) are tested and kept under individual quarantine (self-quarantine) to avoid infections. Quarantine sites pose no risk to the community in the same way that hospitals and clinics that are located in communities pose no harm to society. They observe infection-prevention control (IPC) measures, which include the creation of a map of the facility, demarcating the red, yellow and green zones to outline the details of movement of healthcare and other personnel around the quarantine area and in the building.
“The map is used to regulate the movement of staff so as to limit interactions with high-risk areas and to prevent and control infections.”
Mhlungu said the facilities are manned by well-informed and trained security personnel on a 24-7 rotation basis to monitor the facility and to avoid entry of unauthorised people.
“Personnel at these facilities are trained on how to use personal protective equipment (PPE) and there are designated areas for PPE donning and doffing to ensure the safety of all concerned. There are many other measures in place to ensure the safety of medical staff, PUI and the public at all times.
“We therefore implore communities that have quarantine sites in their midst not to ostracise these critical facilities and people who work or are attached to the facilities, which form a key part of the strategy to fight the spread of this pandemic for the benefit of all communities in the province.”