- Four patients who tested positive for the coronavirus are now calling for their release
- Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu is reportedly refusing to release them despite test results proving they have recovered
- The politician insists that the department will not be 'held to ransom' by people seeking 'special treatment'
Four individuals who formed part of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa are fighting for their release from quarantine at Durban's Addington Hospital.
IOL reports that their lawyer has sent a letter to the provincial Department of Health, detailing that they no longer want to be 'kept captive' by the government.
However, new regulations have empowered the state when it comes to the treatment of those who contract Covid-19.
KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has stood firm in the view that the individuals, who have been in lockdown for 10 days, will not receive 'special treatment':
“The department notes the legal correspondence. We wish to put it on record that we will not be held to ransom by any individuals who appear to seek special treatment. We have an obligation to follow all clinical management protocols for confirmed cases."
Simelane-Zulu explained that the National Health Act made it abundantly clear that the head of a provincial health department can approach the courts to compel a citizen to comply, adding:
“If we get pushed, we will not hesitate to go the legal route to safeguard the interests of the public."
South Africa's first confirmed case, a KZN Midlands man, and his wife are expected to be released in the next few days.
Nevertheless, Futcher & Poppesqou Attorneys were instructed to attempt an earlier release, revealing that appeals had been made to hospital authorities to this effect:
“It is concerning that there has been such a stark discrepancy in the handling of cases both nationally and even within the KZN region. It is particularly concerning that (a patient) has remained in isolation despite testing negative."
The Mercury reports that attorney Mark Futcher explained the patients were concerned that they were being treated differently in comparison to their colleagues who had travelled overseas with them:
“There have to be two negative test results before they are released. However, there has been no indication of when they would receive the second test result. They no longer want to be held captive by a state institution."
Futcher explained that, while they are attempting to co-operate, the patients are calling for the tests to be carried out as soon as possible.
In other news, Briefly.co.za reported that Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says he expects the number of cases to rise above 200 on Friday, predicting that around 60% of the South African population will contract the virus.
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