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Public Enterprises wants SA Express provisional liquidation resolved
20 May 2020, 9:16 PM

The Public Enterprises Department says the process of provisional liquidation of the South African Express must be resolved as soon as possible for the benefit of workers who are not earning salaries.

This week, the employment contracts of the SA Express employees were suspended, paving the way for the beginning of the liquidation process.

Acting Director-General Kgathatso Tlhakudi says the lives of the many workers at the airline will remain uncertain until everything is sorted out.

“The future of SA Express needs to be decided very soon so that the situation that the workers find themselves in there can at least be brought to an end. So that they can start planning their future. And this is … obviously reliant on what sort of the airline industry is going to emerge after the lockdown period. What we know from IATA and AKAU numbers is that literally around the world the industry is getting disseminated, and that is what we know and the propensity to fly is not going to be recovered any time soon.”

In the video below, Public Enterprise Department presents its annual performance plan and budget:

Aviation experts say the sector urgently needs government support to prevent more companies from going under. Independent transport economist Dr Joachim Vermooten noted recently that, “No scheduled airline, even though well-capitalized, will be able to sustain the financial impact of the grounding orders applied to airlines. It really requires the government to come to the party and provide financial assistance otherwise the impact will be greatly felt in the country.”

SA records first neonatal mortality related to COVID-19 as numbers rise to 18 003
20 May 2020, 9:08 PM

South Africa has recorded its first neonatal mortality related to COVID-19 as cases increased to 18 003. In a statement, the Department of Health announced 27 more deaths, bringing the total national deaths to 339. Among those who died are a two-day-old baby and a healthcare worker.

“Sadly, we have recorded the first neonatal mortality related to COVID-19. This was a 2-day-old baby that was born prematurely and therefore, had lung difficulties which required ventilation support immediately after birth.

“The mother had tested positive for COVID-19 and the child subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 as well. It is important to appreciate the complexities of the underlying condition of prematurity,” the statement explained.

The department has sent its condolences to the mother and those that cared for the baby.

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Coronavirus in the Western Cape

The ministry has expressed devastation over losing the healthcare worker in the Western Cape.

“When COVID-19 claims the lives of the very people who are the bedrock of the national response, we feel the loss in so many ways. I want to send a special tribute to the healthcare workers who continue to serve with honour
and compassion, despite the real risks they face in the frontline. My heart goes out to the family, colleagues and loved ones of this compatriot: we salute her for the contribution she has made to the fight against COVID-19.”

The Western Cape accounts for 62.2% of the total number of cases in South Africa. Currently, the province has 11 262 cases.

So far, more than 500 000 tests have been conducted in the country and the total number of recoveries to date is 8 950.

Matric
Political parties react to government’s decision to reopen schools
20 May 2020, 7:03 PM
There has been a mixed reaction to government’s decision to reopen schools on 1 June. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that all Grade 7 and 12 learners will be allowed back in class next month.
She said they will follow all safety protocols before learners report to school. However, some political parties have cautiously welcomed the move while others outrightly rejected it as irresponsible.

After a thorough consultation with relevant stakeholders, including the National Coronavirus Command Council, the government has ordered that the 2020 academic year for Grade 7 and 12 learners should resume.

Political parties are divided on the move.

The governing African National Congress (ANC) fully supports Motshekga on her decision to reopen schools next month.

”We welcome the opening of schools for Grade 7’s and 12’s. It will be up to us as parents to make sure that kids are safe and adhere to the PPE’s and sanitising,” says party spokesperson, Pule Mabe.

The Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister on Higher Education, Science and Technology, Belinda Bazzoli welcomed the move but said that schools should adhere to safety protocols.

“We think it’s a good thing that matric students get to go on to university or college and we were very worried that they were being held back. I think it’s a good thing that primary school kids at Grade 7 will be able to go up to high school so that the system doesn’t get clocked up by students being held back by the coronavirus. Schools can safely reopen.”

The Congress of the People cautiously welcomed Minister Motshekga’s decision. ”For as long as there are precautionary measures, we don’t want to send our kids and teachers to a slaughter field. We are very much concerned that everything must be there before teachers and children can go into a school,” says party Spokesperson, Dennis Bloem.

The IFP, on the other hand, has outrightly rejected the decision. Its spokesperson on Basic Education Siphosethu Ngcobo says it won’t be possible for government to provide water and sanitation to all public schools countrywide while it failed to that in the last 26 years.

“Water and sanitation are going to be a problem. If you have failed in the past to deliver these services, how are you going to be successful now? No matter how much money you have, it’s not going to be possible. So, sorry it’s not going to happen, minister … problems only.”

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has also been engaged in virtual meetings with all leaders of political parties represented in Parliament to find ways of reducing the lockdown to Level 3, which will see the economy opening up and more and more people returning to work.

Teacher unions and NGOs have raised concerns over the state of readiness of schools:

The graphic below shows some of the measures that will be in place when schooling resumes: 

 

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Below is Minister Angie Motshekga’s media briefing: 

St Augustine Hospital investigation reveals virus likely transmitted from one patient to another
20 May 2020, 6:47 PM
The COVID-19 outbreak at Netcare’s St Augustine Hospital in Durban was in all likelihood caused by the virus being transmitted from one patient to another in the emergency room. That is according to a report by a group of medical experts from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Altogether 119 patients and healthcare workers were infected. 15 of the 39 patients died.

This caused the hospital and the outpatient renal unit to be closed.

The COVID-19 outbreak in St. Augustine Hospital from early March to the end of April constituted 14% of KwaZulu-Natal’s coronavirus burden at the time.

A report by three medical experts from the University of KwaZulu-Natal indicates that the coronavirus spread through five wards – the outpatient renal unit at the hospital and a nursing home elsewhere in the city.

According to the report, the outbreak most probably started when the virus was transmitted from a patient being checked for COVID-19 to a patient who was suspected to have suffered a stroke.

The experts say the patient who was infected in the emergency department did not show any symptoms of COVID-19 nor was such an infection suspected.

By the time, she was diagnosed with COVID-19, several other healthcare workers and patients had already been infected.

The report is based on record reviews, interviews with healthcare workers, as well as genetic sequencing of the virus.

All 18 DNA sequences were almost identical, pointing to a single source.

Community transmission has, however, not been ruled out.

According to the report, the St Augustine case shows how easily the coronavirus can spread through a hospital.

The Investigation was led by UKZN academics bringing together expertise in infectious diseases, epidemiology, and viral genomics. Professor Tulio de Oliveira is the director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform:

Recommendations 

The report recommends, among other things, that the hospital be divided into separate zones, according to COVID-19 risk, as well as weekly rapid coronavirus tests of all frontline workers.

Netcare says all the recommendations have been implemented.

Regional Director, Craig Murphy, says the outbreak occurred at a time when many national guidelines were being changed and refined as the epidemic spread through the country.

Below are the latest COVID-19 stats in South Africa:

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More than 200 families served with eviction notices in Klipspruit
20 May 2020, 5:19 PM

More than 200 families in Soweto could spend this winter out in the cold after the City of Johannesburg served them with eviction notices, for unlawfully occupying incomplete and vandalised RDP houses.

Criminals turned empty houses in Klipspruit, Extension Six and surrounding areas, into drug dens and used them as hiding spots.

A contractor apparently abandoned the project due to a contractual dispute with the city.

Most of the occupants have refurbished the properties, but the City of Johannesburg wants them to move.

The residents accuse government of failing them as they face imminent eviction for unlawfully occupying incomplete and derelict RDP houses.

“The houses show that they did not have owners. For four years they have been standing empty. For almost three years now we have been living in this house. If they say this house has an owner, the owner would have arrived already. Honestly, I  am clueless as to what I am going to do,” says one of the affected residents.

The housing project was reportedly started in 2010 by the city, but had to stop due to an alleged contractual dispute.

The City’s Spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane has declined to respond to specific questions relating to the matter.

“The Klipspruit Extension matter relates to a group of individuals who illegally invaded RDP houses in the area.  Their action is depriving legitimate owners of their right to own property. The city is not in a position to respond to the claim made by the individuals at this point since the matter is before the courts.”

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