The family of a 73-year-old Bo-Kaap man have been hailed for their call to action after they urged the people who have been in contact with him to get tested for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), fearing for their neighbours’ health and safety.
Mogamat Salie, a lifelong resident of the historic Cape Town neighbourhood, was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus and is currently in hospital.
His family, through the Covid-19 Bo-Kaap Community Response Team – a body made up of a variety of local organisations – issued an appeal that those who had had contact with him “take the necessary precautionary measures to remain healthy”.
The response team’s Masturah Adams told News24 on Tuesday that Salie was “upbeat” and doing well as his health improved.
He was diagnosed on Monday after visiting his local hospital for a different ailment, she said.
According to the family, who released a statement through the response team, they were not aware of how Salie had contracted the virus and whether it had been within the neighbourhood or not.
Adams said Salie was well known in the area and, before retiring, had been an active sportsman and cricket coach.
“After his diagnosis was confirmed, our entire community has been tremendously supportive of him and his family,” Adams said.
“Everyone has rallied around him by praying for him.”
The Salies, in their statement, said they were sharing the information to ensure their community was kept safe, educated and united.
“The coronavirus can be carried by many and they may not even be aware of it, as in the case of our father. Our humble appeal is that you remain indoors in self-quarantine to ensure it minimises the risk of affecting others.
“Please make dua [pray] for our father, that Almighty Allah grant him complete Shifaah [healing], Insha-Allah [God willing].”
The family’s decision to publicly release Salie’s diagnosis and details of what had transpired would go a long way in fighting stigmatisation surrounding the pandemic, Adams believed.
She pointed out that Adams had been responsible, even before the nationwide lockdown, staying at home, apart from going to the shop or mosque before it was closed in response to the outbreak.
“What the family did by making this call showed leadership and put the greater good of the community first.
“I think it’s a big decision. What happened is nothing to be ashamed of. If it had been me, I would also tell the world so that [people I had been in contact with] could act quickly.”
Meanwhile, the usually bustling streets of Bo-Kaap have become quiet since President Cyril Ramaphosa last week declared a 21-day lockdown across the country.
A major tourist attraction – which was once a township where the houses were rented to slaves – the suburb on the slopes of Signal Hill has, like the rest of the country, mostly heeded the call to stay indoors.
Adams said the response team had been established to assist pensioners and other vulnerable groups during the lockdown.
The assistance includes everything from making grocery parcels for those in need, to transporting people to collect their social grants.
On Monday, Ramaphosa confirmed the number of Covid-19 cases in the country had increased to 1,326, with three deaths.