Estates see first cases of coronavirus: How are they responding?

With the numbers of people infected with the new coronavirus expected to rise dramatically in South Africa in the coming weeks, community schemes are bracing themselves for cases within their walls.

Avoiding panic is easier said than done, yet it is essential to coping with the dramatic changes that are being forced upon communities everywhere.  In community schemes, directors and trustees can do much to alleviate fear, by communicating effectively steps that are being taken to minimise the spread of the virus within their sectional title development or estate.

Waterfall Country Estate in Midrand, one of Gauteng’s most exclusive residential lifestyle estates, announced its first case on 17 March, just 12 days after the first positive case emerged in South Africa.  The HOA took immediate action to inform the community and explained how the person became infected during overseas travel, how the resident’s family was self-isolating, and how the clubhouse and gym where the person’s spouse had been in contact with the spouse of a personal trainer, were being disinfected.

In Centurion, where a student at the Wierdapark Primary School tested positive, several estates in the area took it upon themselves to send out cautionary letters to residents, many of whom have children who attend the school.

In several instances, parks and playground equipment were declared off-limits for children as a safety precaution, estate-organised social events have been cancelled until further notice and walk-in’s to estate managers’ offices have been stopped, with communication now to be via phone calls or emails.

Encouragingly, some estates in the area have requested of anyone willing to assist the elderly and the self-quarantined (if and when it may be required), to inform the estate office so that these efforts may be co-ordinated for maximum effect.

Questions surrounding the risks involved with fingerprint entry systems are going to require careful consideration by schemes that use them, as will effective training of guards and efforts to encourage social distancing.

These are just the start of the many cases that have yet to reach the news, and there are bound to be many more as the weeks go by.  Estate Life will continue to publish more stories to keep readers appraised of best practice within schemes, as well as articles that will help to avoid the spread of the virus within their communities.

For updates and the latest information about COVID-19 the following resources are useful:

Department of Health: http://www.health.gov.za/index.php/outbreaks/145-corona-virus-outbreak

National Institute of Communicable Diseases: http://www.nicd.ac.za

National Institute of Occupational Health: http://www.nioh.ac.za

World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

Coronavirus Hotline Numbers: 0800 02 99 99 / 0800 111 132

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