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Nigeria imposes offshore oil worker restrictions in coronavirus battle
29 March 2020, 3:56 PM

Nigeria’s petroleum regulator has ordered oil and gas companies to reduce their offshore workforce and move to 28-day staff rotations as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according to a circular seen by Reuters.

Health experts fear a widespread outbreak in Africa’s most populous country, which has about 200 million inhabitants, and the country is keen to protect oil production, which provides90% of much-needed foreign exchange.

A coronavirus case on an offshore rig could spread quickly among workers and have a potentially devastating impact on production.

Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources Sarki Auwalu says only staff on essential duties will be allowed to travel to offshore or remote locations.

“Non-essential staff currently at offshore/remote locations should be withdrawn with immediate effect,” he says in a statement.

Nigeria, which has 97 confirmed coronavirus cases, has shut international airports, closed all land borders and imposed curbs on cargo vessels allowed to dock at its ports in an effort to contain the outbreak.

Rivers State, in which Port Harcourt serves as the hub of Nigeria’s oil industry, closed its own borders to human traffic this week.

Oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria have previously said that the health and safety of workers was their top priority.

Industry sources said that a number of oil companies had already shifted from 14-day rotations to 28 days. Some are also implementing a 14-day quarantine for workers before they leave for rigs. Oil prices have fallen by two thirds since the start of the year, which has forced Nigeria to cut its budget and prompted oil companies to reduce their spending plans.

SABC expands news, current affairs services in bid to keep nation up-to-date on COVID-19
28 March 2020, 5:29 PM

The SABC has expanded its News and Current Affairs services on free-to-air television channels with immediate effect.

The public broadcaster says this is a direct response to the escalating need for public awareness on information around the coronavirus outbreak. It has also committed to continue to provide citizens with valuable, accurate and factual news and information during this period.

“The SABC has decided to urgently expand its news and current affairs services on free to air television channels as well as its African language radio stations, including English radio stations  like SA fm and Radio 2000 with immediate effect. This means that all relevant  media briefings will be broadcast live on SABC Tv and radio,” says SABC acting spokesperson, Mmoni Seapolelo.

In the video below, the COVID-19 National Command Council brief the media on latest developments:

This comes as efforts to thwart fake news continue.

The University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital have urged South Africans to verify messages passed on to them on the virus.

The call followed a fake message that the university says has been doing the rounds on WhatsApp attributed to a “Head of Virology”.

It called on members of the public not to panic and go to credible sources of information for developments.

A social analyst and managing director of the Black Box theory Yavi Madurai gives more insight to fake news:  

SA rugby legend tests positive for COVID-19, urges South Africans to follow the rules
28 March 2020, 4:31 PM

Springbok rugby legend Danie Gerber has contracted the coronavirus. The 61-year-old Gerber says he started feeling ill on Wednesday and experience body aches.

He went to his doctor on Thursday and was informed of his test results within 24 hours.

Gerber says he travelled a lot in the past two weeks, including more than four flights, and it is impossible to say where he picked up the virus. He is now isolated at his home in Port Elizabeth.

“I just want to tell you guys to stay at home and go according to the rules. Don’t be a hero. Think of your family, your friends the whole South Africa and the whole world. It spreads like you can’t believe it, it is very dangerous if you don’t look after yourself. I am very positive and I know I will go through this.”

In the video below, tour guides in KwaZulu-Natal express concern over possible exposure to COVID-19:

COVID-19 deaths indicate seriousness of the pandemic: DA, EFF
27 March 2020, 1:14 PM

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) say the deaths of two people in the Western Cape are an indication of the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Friday morning, the national Health Department released a statement confirming the deaths of two people. One at a private hospital and the other at a public health facility.

The DA and EFF have expressed sadness at the news, conveying condolences to the families of two women one aged 28 and the other 48.

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen says: “If ever there was a reason to reinforce how important it is that over the next 21 days that people abide by the regulations and stay indoors so we can flatten the curve and stop the spread then this must be it. This must serve to focus our minds of just how serious this COVID-19 outbreak is and just what a threat it presents to our nation, our economy and our country.”

The EFF agrees. In a statement, the party urges South Africans to stay at home.

“We call on all employers that insist on remaining fully operational to desist and shutdown their companies. These unfortunate deaths should be a wake-up call to all of us regarding the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic, as such we should all be part of preventing its spread.”

COVID-19 Safety Precautions by SABC Digital News
The red berets have also urged law enforcement agencies and security forces to carry out their duties with dignity and compassion, respect and care as they patrol the streets of South Africa to make sure that all citizens adhere to the national lockdown rules.

More than 1 000 infections have been confirmed in the country so far – making it the most affected African country.

In the video below, Gauteng Health confirms that 16 German tourists are currently under quarantine after one of them tested positive for COVID-19:

Call for rates suspension for small businesses amid national lockdown
27 March 2020, 10:58 AM

The Cape Chamber of Commerce has called for the suspension of rates and rents to save jobs and small businesses in light of the national lockdown.

President of the Chamber Geoff Jacobs says small businesses are already hard hit by the impact of COVID-19.

He’s called on municipalities and landlords to grant property owners and tenants some breathing space by suspending payments for the duration of the lockdown.

Jacobs says Stellenbosch Municipality has already agreed to suspend rates.

Stiff fines loom against retailers hiking prices

Retailers found guilty of price-hiking during the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa could be fined 10% of their annual turnover.

The National Consumer Commission is currently investigating 11 retailers and businesses for unjustified price increases due to the demand for goods ahead of the national lockdown.

Director of Prosecutions at the Commission Joseph Selolo says consumers must report retailers or even local shops if they feel prices are being unfairly hiked.

“There’s a penalty that can be imposed which is 1 million or 10% of the offenders annual turnover whichever is greater. Unfortunately, we do not have enough man power that we can go to each shop but we encourage consumers as soon as they see that, to lodge a complaint with us together with the competition commission so that then we can take action and try to bring those offenders to book,” Selolo says.

Consumers are urged to report price irregularities during this time at 0800 01 4880.



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