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SABC’s Durban office to open after COVID-19 scare
27 May 2020, 7:01 PM

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has confirmed that operations at its Durban office will resume on Friday after the building was shut down when a staff member was informed that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

uKhozi FM DJ Tshatha Ngobe on Tuesday informed his employer of his initial positive results. However, a call from the JDJ Diagnostics laboratory in Durban on Wednesday, where Ngobe was tested, has now confirmed that his initial diagnosis was in incorrect.

JDJ Chief Pathologist, Pierre du Randt, has admitted that the error was due to an employee who prematurely released Ngobe’s results.

“The employee has since been alerted by the lab in question that an error occurred during the initial testing and the employee was presented with new test results whose outcome was negative. We can also confirm that the corporation is in possession of both test results. It must also be noted that as per norm the corporation has followed and adhered to all the internal protocols prior to confirming the case. This latest case has held a serious impact on the organisation including the temporary closure of the Durban office and some staff members having to urgently undergo testing, ” says SABC Spokesperson, Mmoni Seapolelo.

Earlier this week, another SABC employee based at the broadcaster’s head office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, tested positive for the coronavirus.

This was the second employee to test positive at the public broadcaster’s headquarters.

So far, four SABC workers have tested positive for the virus that has claimed 524 lives in the country.

Last week, the SABC’s offices in Cape Town had to be evacuated for deep cleaning after an employee tested positive, while a journalist from the Northern Cape office in Kimberley was infected in March.

Below are the latest COVID-19 stats:

 

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Cape Winelands identified as one of COVID-19 hotspots in Western Cape
27 May 2020, 6:40 PM
The Cape Winelands has been identified as one of the hotspots for COVID-19 in the Western Cape. The district municipality is the largest in the province, and includes towns such as Stellenbosch, Paarl and Ceres.

It is also a major agricultural region producing grapes, apples and wine.

The Cape Winelands District Municipality comprises 22 towns and has a population of nearly 900 000 people.

Recently, the fruit producing region of Witzenberg, which falls within the Cape Winelands came under the spotlight. It had the highest rate of COVID-19 infections and transmissions outside the Cape Town Metro.

One of the 19 triage and testing centres set up across the province opened at Ceres Hospital. This is to deal with screening, testing and treatment of COVID-19 cases. The number of hospital beds has also been increased.

Director of the Cape Winelands District Health, Dr Lizette Phillips, says communities have high population densities which makes it easier for the virus to srpead.

“COVID-19 is more infectious than the flu. Many communities are densely populated which makes it easier for the virus to spread quickly. The virus spreads when people move or gather for example in our communities and our workplaces. As this is a whole of government initiative and all spheres of society are involved we are able to pool our resources to fight COVID-19 and to mitigate the impact in our communities.”

Most rural municipalities in the Western Cape have around 50 cases of COVID-19. But in the Witzenberg Municipality, the numbers went from zero to over 100 within two weeks. There are currently 851 cases of which 386 have recovered in the entire Cape Winelands District Municipality.

“There are many initiatives including prioritising support for vulnerable communities who are at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, especially our older people and people who have underlying health conditions and very importantly our healthcare workers,” Dr Phillips explains.

In Ceres, a major apple production region, stringent measures have been put in place in packing facilities and in orchards, as well as on most farms in the region.

The Cape Town Metro and the West Coast are some of the other municipalities within the province flagged as hotspots for the virus.

Below are the latest stats:

 

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All feeding scheme beneficiaries will receive meals from June 1: Lobby groups
27 May 2020, 5:40 PM

Rights groups, Equal Education (EE), Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) and Section 27, have welcomed government’s promise that all learners who qualify for the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP ) will receive school meals and food parcels from June 1.

Initially the department of Basic Education had said the programme will resume in accordance with its phased reopening plan, which would have meant that only grade 7 and 12 learners would receive the meals as they would be the first group to return to school.

The lobby groups have been engaging with have been engaging with the Presidency, the Department of Education and Parliament on this matter. On Tuesday, they say they received government’s commitment to supply all qualifying learners with meals.

Equal Education, Equal Education Law Centre and Section 27 had previously expressed concerns about the more than 9 million learners who depend on the programme for meals following a countrywide lockdown that led to the closure of schools.

“The national lockdown has deepened food insecurity for South Africans across the country. This has had particularly severe implications for the well-being and development of children, who are guaranteed the right to basic nutrition under section 28(1)(c) of the Constitution.”

The Provincial Education Departments will be responsible for developing the appropriate mechanisms for collection or delivery of meals and food parcels to learners. This is expected to include measures such as staggered collection times and social distancing protocols to ensure learner safety.

“While EE, EELC and Section 27 welcome the DBE’s commitment. Monitoring of provincial plans will be crucial to ensuring that the DBE’s commitment and constitutional obligations are fulfilled. We call on the DBE to make all provincial plans publicly available on the DBE’s website, and for national and provincial legislatures to maintain effective oversight,” reads the statement in part.

In the video below, is a report on schools readiness to reopen:

Government should engage better with citizens for cooperation in COVID-19 fight: Analyst
27 May 2020, 4:30 PM

Government needs to ensure that it engages better with ordinary citizens if it wants their co-operation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, says political analyst Tessa Downs.

Downs says it appears that not all efforts to consult and influence government’s decisions are equally received.

The remarks follow yesterday’s announcement that places of worship will reopening when South Africa moves to Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown in June.  Only 50 people are allowed to gather at each service. The move  followed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s engagements with faith-based organisations.

Level 3 will also see more people going back to work and grade 7 and 12 learners going back to school.

Below are some regulations that will be in effect during Level 3: 

 

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Downs says government needs to broaden its communication.

“It seems there are lobby groups and power interests that have more access to the state and the state’s ear than other people in the society, than community members. And so, there is a communication deficit. At minimum, it is the onus of the state to make sure that the citizenry understands what information that they are given. So, I believe a whole lot more needs to be done so that it’s not just the powerful lobby groups and the organised parts of society that have a voice, but that all parts of society have a voice in terms of government and what it is trying to do.”

Currently, there are 24 264 coronavirus cases and a total of 524 deaths in the country.

Below is a breakdown of the current stats:

 

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43 more COVID-19 related deaths, as cases rise to 24 264
26 May 2020, 10:19 PM

South Africa has recorded 43 more coronavirus related deaths, bringing the total to 524.

There are currently 24 264 cases of coronavirus in the country. The Western Cape accounts for 65. 2% of the total number of cases.

More than 600 000 tests have been conducted, 9 214 of which were done in the last 24 hours.

The department says South Africa is currently facing a shortage of testing reagents. “We are, however, continuing our efforts to secure these reagents from different suppliers over the world.”

Below is a breakdown of the stats:

 

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Colder weather and COVID-19

Meanwhile a Durban-based general practitioner Dr Prithi Ramlachan says there are no scientific findings confirming the relation between colder weather and an increased risk of COVID-19 infections.

The first heavy cold front of winter made landfall in the Cape Peninsula this week, bringing with it concerns over cold-related viruses. Ramlachan says there are various viral infections that develop during cold weather.

“The important facet of good health in any outbreak or virus is important for patients. And the reason for that is that if you are healthy,  you are able to mount a good response to any virus that affects you, whether it’s coronavirus, whether it’s the flu virus. Whether it’s the cold or any of those, at least you know your body will be good and healthy to mount a response against it.”

Weather

 

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