Man who was Limpopo’s first Covid-19 death ‘initially tested negative’

A 69-year-old man, the first person to die of Covid-19 in Limpopo, was a retired lawyer and never travelled outside his village in the Capricorn district in the past several months.

News24 was reliably told that the man had in the past been visited by people from outside the province. His wife, who is 65, has also tested positive for Covid-19, but she is still asymptomatic.

The Department of Health has refused to divulge the name of the village for fear of causing panic in the area and a “media frenzy”.

The man was admitted to the privately-run Netcare Pholoso Hospital in Polokwane on 7 April after experiencing diabetic complications.  

First test was negative

The first test returned negative, despite the man having displayed symptoms of Covid-19. Later, X-ray results apparently showed that he had developed viral pneumonia, News24 has learnt.

His doctor then requested a second Covid-19 test when realising that he was not responding to pneumonia medication. By the time the results were received, which returned positive, the man had already died of Covid-19.

However, Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba on Friday said virologists from the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) and the privately-run Lancet Laboratory have launched an investigation.

“Virologists from NHLS and Lancet Laboratory are working to determine the factors that led to the false negative result. At this time, we are allowing the virologists to look into that. We request everyone to be calm and not be worried,” Ramathuba said.

Quarantine

She also said 11 staff members of the hospital were found to have been exposed. They have since been quarantined.

“We could not report at the time that we have another case of Covid-19 because the results were negative. The test was repeated on the request of the physician and unfortunately, when it came back, the patient had already demised.

“Tracing teams have been activated and have gone to the community to start tracing the contacts of the deceased, so they can be screened and tested. As a province, we have entered another struggle against Covid-19,” Ramathuba said.

The news of the first Covid-19 death in Limpopo was received with shock by the people on the streets in Polokwane.

Matome Diale said: “At first I thought this was just another disease that was being over-emphasised by the authorities. This has become serious – a coronavirus death of a person from the village?” 

Mokgadi Lentswe, who was unaware of the death, threw her arms on her head and said: “Yoh! We should start taking this situation seriously.”

Food parcels

Meanwhile, Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha met with political parties represented in the legislature after their outcry that the provincial government was not involving them in the fight against Covid-19.

According to the statement released after the meeting, the parties agreed that no municipal councillor would be involved in the distribution of food parcels to the vulnerable people.

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