An Eastern Cape convent has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with five nuns dying from the virus in June and a further 17 having tested positive.
The Head of the Mother House Convent, Missionary Sister Nokwanda Bam, is also COVID-19 positive and another sister is receiving critical care treatment for the virus.
Four nuns die in a week
In a statement released by the Congregation of the Precious Blood Sisters (CPS), Bam said that all of the deceased were over the age of 60.
“The congregation of the Precious Blood Sisters [CPS] wishes to inform the public about an upsurge of COVID-19 that has befallen the Mother House Convent of [CPS] in Mthatha, which also serves as an old age home.”
She said that the first fatality from the home was taken to hospital and placed under quarantine on 2 June.
“After being discovered to be infected on June 2, she was fetched by the authorities of the hospital and taken to a B&B for quarantine in Mthatha. After her, other members of the community were also discovered to be infected, resulting in four of them, all of them elderly, succumbing to the virus last week.”
“In the meantime, it has been discovered that more sisters are infected, young and old,” said Bam.
Almost half of convent staff infected
Presently, 17 other staff members have tested positive, with 15 testing negative and three are still waiting for the results of the test.
Bam said that the community was devastated by the deaths and would galvinize through prayer.
“It is telling all the other sisters that we have a death, so all the sisters in the rooms will pray for the sister’s soul.
She said that while the Department of Health has offered to assist the facility, they are still awaiting a full sanitation protocol to be rolled out.
“Our rooms are not yet fumigated, the dining room is not yet fumigated, so we have these challenges that still need to be addressed – fumigation, nurses to look after the sisters who are COVID-19 positive, these are our pressing challenges,” she said.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has raised concern over the rapidly increasing reports of COVID-19 cases in the province, and has said that cases among healthcare workers is particularly disturbing.