In early December, COVID-19 inflections were identified in our villages. In good timing, Lynne Wilkinson (the 2021 BI Acting Director) and Dr. Tom Boyles (Infectious Disease Specialist) arrived in Nqileni village for the year. Since the beginning of the pandemic, both have worked extensively in Gauteng on first wave COVID-19 planning and clinical management. At the Bulungula Incubator, they are working together with the BI team, traditional leadership, local feeder hospitals, and community members to execute our second wave emergency response plan.

Nomakhayas continue to conduct daily COVID-19 screenings, prioritising households with elderly community members. All community members with COVID-19 symptoms are offered testing and educated about the importance of isolation. 

The BI has set up community-based COVID-19 PCR tests, conducted by Dr. Tom Boyles, at local designated health points in all four villages. These community-based tests have removed the need to transport symptomatic patients to feeder hospitals (located 1-2 hours drive away). If a community member tests positive for COVID-19, the BI team informs the Chief (and BI Board Chairperson), Vuyolwethu Jaxa, who then contacts the community member to give the test result and reiterate the importance of isolation to keep others in the community safe. If symptoms severely progress, the community member is referred to the nearest hospital, transported by BI trained taxi drivers*. If a community member tests negative, Nomakhayas inform and educate them around de-isolation and continued precautionary measures.

All symptomatic and COVID-19 positive cases are captured daily, and geolocated on our Bulungula COVID-19 tracker to monitor spread, and further support our response. 

There has been high COVID-19 transmission with the BI feeder communities, reflecting high positivity rates, however, unlike urban and peri-urban areas, the rate of severe COVID-19 symptoms among elderly community members has been low, with limited need for hospitalisation, and very few deaths.

We will continue to adapt with the evolving crisis. We thank you all for your support during this time. If you would like to aid in our efforts, you can donate below. Enkos’ Kakhulu! 

*to date, there has been limited need for taxi ambulances.