The Health Department in the Free State says it has managed to trace 973 COVID-19 contacts in the province.
Over 1 000 contacts have been identified. This emanates from 480 people that attended a church service and had some contact with international guests that tested positive for the coronavirus.
Three doctors, a nurse and a neurophysicist in the Free State are among those who have tested positive for the virus.
The number of confirmed cases in the province stands at 72.
Many confirmed cases in Bloemfontein emanate from the service that was held earlier in March.
The department of health says Red Cross volunteers and community health workers are on the ground to help trace COVID-19 contacts in communities.
In the video below, the Free States sees a steady increase in COVID-19 cases:
Health MEC Montsheng Tsiu says the department is also increasing capacity of staff to conduct screening.
“They are coming that is why numbers are rising like they are because the church people are responding. They’re coming and those that are not coming, we are able to trace them to their homes because we are working together with Vodacom. It is helping us that we are able to locate where the contacts are and we are bringing them to the testing and do the screening and testing. We’ve two mobile laboratories that we have sent to the churches. So they are there at the churches, there are people there that are there have gone to be tested.”
Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela has appealed to everyone to adhere to the lockdown regulations.
“I just want to appeal to all churches to say they must not even risk; they must not allow many people to attend services. So please assist us because they should be aware of what is happening in Bloemfontein. Please pastors or priests assist otherwise we are in trouble.”
Although disappointed that they cannot attend church like they would normally do, some worshippers understand why this had to be done.
The department has also appealed to the public to refrain from stigmatising those who are testing for COVID-19.
In the video below, the Free State government says it is still tracing people who were exposed to the virus: