On Monday 11 January a notification was sent out to the residents of eMkhondo, stating that the offices of the SAPS will be closed for the day, due to an employee that tested positive for Covid-19.
On Tuesday 12 January another statement was circulated, declaring that two employees of the Department of Home Affairs also tested positive and that the offices will remain closed until the 25th of January.
The order to close the offices for such a long period of time came from the Mpumalanga Department of Home Affairs. However, they are working on obtaining a mobile office in order to assist the residents of eMkhondo as soon as possible, which will be set up outside of the building. In the meantime, they have contacted the Department of Home Affairs in Ermelo and Volksrust, who have agreed to assist the residents of the town to the best of their ability. All urgent cases will be directed to them.
Although it is appreciated that the eMkhondo Home Affairs made arrangements for their clients, it has not been taken into account that many people do not have the financial means or time to travel to another town for their affairs. It is also extremely inconvenient.
It is peculiar that the SAPS was only closed for one day but, the Home Affair offices are expected to be closed for 12 days. It just goes to show that no one is exactly sure what the correct protocol is to follow if someone tests positive at an establishment.
Maybe the government should be clearer about what to do. As far as we know, if an employee tests positive, the business should close immediately and be disinfected but, can open again the next day. The person who tested positive is required to quarantine for 10 days, as well as everyone who was in direct contact with the infected individual. There is no need to stay closed for an extended period of time.
Both the SAPS and Department of Home Affairs get visited by many people on a daily basis and one would think that at a government establishment, the regulations of Covid-19 would be enforced in full but, unfortunately this is not the case. The rows of people rarely practice social distancing and a majority of them do not bother wearing their masks in the correct manner (over mouth and nose).
How can the rest of the community be expected to follow regulations if it is not even enforced at places where there are officials everywhere? And why is there not someone who ensures that people adhere to the rules? This behaviour is disappointing to say the least.
We wish the three people who tested positive a speedy recovery and we hope that these cases motivate the people of eMkhondo to take this virus more seriously.