The Eastern Cape department of health has denied social media reports that 204 pupils and staff – who tested positive for Covid-19 at Makaula Secondary School – were left stranded outside a hotel on Tuesday night.
Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the reports were a gross exaggeration and deliberate attempt to agitate the public.
This after a picture of two buses outside a hotel in KwaBhaca was posted on social media with a caption claiming 600 pupils were stranded with nowhere to sleep.
On Wednesday, Kupelo said the pupils and staff were all safely transported to a hotel in Matatiele as well as a bed-and-breakfast and River Lodge in KwaBhaca.
Makaula, a 1 200-bed boarding school in the Alfred Nzo District Municipality, came under the spotlight when confirmed coronavirus cases jumped from 24 to more than 200.
The news shocked the education fraternity and sparked calls for the immediate closure of schools.
There are 284 Grade 12 pupils at the school.
Kupelo said teams of health workers, including doctors, would be attached to the quarantine sites to manage the patients.
“The post suggesting that 600 learners tested positive for Covid-19 is a gross exaggeration and a deliberate attempt to agitate members of the public. We tested a total of 223 learners, so where do these people get 600?”
“There are no people who were stranded,” he added.
Since the reopening of schools on 8 June, the provincial government has been forced to shut 196 schools due to Covid-19.
On Monday, it revealed in a statement 132 of those remained shut, while 40 reopened after decontamination. There was no explanation offered by the government about the situation regarding the 24 other schools.
Teacher unions and school governing bodies in the Eastern Cape have called for the immediate closure of schools in light of the spike in infections.
The Eastern Cape has recorded 327 Covid-19 deaths, with 18 108 infections and 8 259 recoveries.
Most of the cases are in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in Port Elizabeth and Buffalo City Metro in East London.