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COPE calls on public representatives to test for COVID-19
3 April 2020, 12:55 PM

The Congress of the People (COPE) is calling on all public representatives, who know they had contact with people who tested positive with the coronavirus (COVID-19), to test for the coronavirus.

COPE says this will instill confidence in the public and defeat stigmatisation if public representatives take the lead in testing. So far two Members of Parliament, Kenneth Meshoe and Steve Swart have tested positive after coming into contact with international guests at a religious gathering. The guests tested positive.

COPE Spokesperson Dennis Bloem says: “The responsibility of public representatives is to lead by example. All MPs, MPLs, Councillors who know that they were in contact with a person which is now infected by the coronavirus must go for testing. We call upon them to do the right thing. There is no other way. Public representatives can play a big role in encouraging society if people see them taking the lead in testing. Coronavirus is not a joke. All of us must do everything in our power to fight this virus. We can beat it if we are serious in helping this government in fighting coronavirus.”

In the video below Rev Kenneth Meshoe confirms that he has tested positive for COVID-19

Vavi also tests positive

The General Secretary of trade union federation, SAFTU, Zwelinzima Vavi has tested positive for coronavirus.

He had been suffering from flu like symptoms when he took the coronavirus test.

Reports say an initial test at the weekend came back negative and the trade union leader had a second test this week. That test has come back positive. Vavi is now self-isolating.

Latest COVID-19 stats below:

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Mashego denies allegations of joining People’s Dialogue
3 April 2020, 9:30 AM

The former Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Gauteng leader, Mandisa Mashego has denied that she is joining Herman Mashaba’s People’s Dialogue. This after she confirmed her resignation as the party’s caucus leader in the Gauteng Legislature and party chairperson in the province.

The party has been dismissing the rumours of her leaving since the beginning of the year.

Mashego contested and lost the race for the EFF’s secretary-general position earlier this year against Julius Malema’s close ally Marshall Dlamini.

Mashego dismissed allegations that she is joining the People’s Dialogue.

“I do have a lot of private discussion with Herman. I always have, especially during difficult times of his tenure as the Executive Mayor,  I’ve learned to respect him even though ideologically we’re still far apart but we have not yet had a discussion about me joining him. From what I know he has not established a political party, he has some kind of formation that he’s engaging citizens about what they want to see in next year’s elections and beyond and what kind of leadership they want to see in government. I’m aware of that and I’m not part of that.”

In the video below SABC News reports on Mashego resigning from the EFF:

Decision to allow minibus taxis to operate 70% capacity not helpful: SAMA
3 April 2020, 8:02 AM

The South African Medical Association (SAMA) says the decision by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to allow for minibus taxis to operate at 70% capacity, could impact efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Mbalula has said that taxi operators are allowed to be 70% full, provided that passengers wear masks.

SAMA Vice-Chair Mvuyisi Mzukwa says: “So if you just decide to take that route I don’t think it’s going to be helpful in terms of containing the virus. I think if we are to be very serious about this, we need to honestly be patient with the lockdown and not relax the restrictions that come with the lockdown.  I think we need to be very careful not to make rally kind of speeches when we deal with the virus and I think the Department of Health should take a lead in these discussions.”

The Association says it is also incorrect to call on the industry to use N95 masks since those are for health workers and there’s already a dire shortage globally.

In the video below, SABC News reports on the amendments of lockdown restrictions on minibus taxis

Public transport

The Transport Minister has urged all taxi owners and operators to abide by the amended regulations and preserve the lives of their passengers.

Public transport will be permitted to ferry essential services workers from 5am to 10am and from 4pm to 8pm. Minibuses and midibuses will get an hour’s grace to get to pick-up and drop-off points before the official operating hours.

Authorities have urged the public to avoid close contact with people infected with the coronavirus as the country tries to slow the spread of the virus.

For more information on the coronavirus, you can call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999. You can also add the official government COVID-19 support service on WhatsApp – on 0600 123 456.

Pay cut a small sacrifice for game’s future: England’s Jones
3 April 2020, 6:36 AM

England coach Eddie Jones says agreeing to a pay cut during the coronavirus shutdown was an easy decision to make because safeguarding English rugby’s future is the priority.

Jones accepted a salary deduction of over 25% to help ease the financial burden on the Rugby Football Union (RFU), which is set to lose up to 50 million pounds ($61.89 million) over the next 18 months.

Jones, who signed a new England contract until the 2023 World Cup on Thursday, told reporters on a teleconference call the RFU’s executive team set the tone by immediately agreeing to the pay reduction proposal.

“I was really pleased with how decisive they were and it was easy to make a decision to follow that,” said the Australian.

“It’s a small thing that you do personally to ensure that we can get through the next period of time and part of that is taking that salary cut.”

With the exception of the Premiership, the RFU has confirmed the end of the 2019-20 season for the second-tier Championship, women’s Premier 15s and the community game due to the pandemic.

Despite facing the heavy losses, the RFU said it would provide a 7 million pounds ($8.3 million) relief package to community clubs.

Jones said both amateur and professional clubs would suffer financially during the period.

“So we’ve got to make sure that whatever form rugby takes post-coronavirus it’s in a stronger state than it was previously,” he adds.

Minister Lamola assures privacy of individuals during tracing exercise
3 April 2020, 6:04 AM

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola says a designated judge will be appointed to protect the privacy of individuals when tracing those who came into contact with coronavirus patients.

Lamola was addressing the media in Pretoria on revised regulations for the national lockdown.

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams announced that contact tracing will be done using the mobile phone number of the person infected and the geo-location data.

Telkom, Samsung, and the South African government have teamed up to develop a track and trace database to identify the whereabouts of people who may have contracted coronavirus.

COVID-19 Tracing Database

The regulations state that the Director-General of the Department of Health may obtain the details of the person concerned, including their location, from their service providers in writing or without prior notice.

This is for the inclusion of the details in the COVID-19 Tracing Database.

The video below is a report on donated handsets to track COVID-19 contacts:

Ndabeni-Abrahams has assured the public that authorities will only use technology to track people who have the coronavirus and will not listen in to their calls.

Telkom has been working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to develop the database. It uses data from a person’s phone to track where they have been so as to be able to track an infected person and identify those they may have exposed to the virus.

Penalties or imprisonment

South Africa is on day eight of the 21 days national lockdown, which was enacted to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The spread of the virus led to a declaration of a national state of disaster under the Disaster Management Act of 2002.

Those that do not adhere to regulations guiding the use of information for COVID-19 tracing face penalties or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

The COVID-19 Tracing Database will be availed for research, study and teaching purposes after the national state of disaster has lapsed.

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