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Sizwe Kupelo
Residents of Port St Johns ignoring lockdown regulations
25 April 2020, 8:50 PM

Residents of KwaMajola village in Port St Johns, in the Eastern Cape, have continued to ignore lockdown regulations, despite 40 people having tested positive for the coronavirus in the area. The lockdown regulations are intended to slow the spread of the virus. A total of 778 people have been screened and 560 tested in the village.

Below is a SA coronavirus statistics graph:

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Villagers in the area continue with their daily routine, ignoring the regulations. There are many who don’t care about social distancing and the call for all South Africans to stay at home. A villager Luvuyo Manto says traditional herbs will save him from any illness and he fears no death.

“Naturally, I am not a scared person because I know that I was created to live and die. If I am sick I take my traditional herbs, crush them and make a mixture, so out of it I can be healed and in most cases I managed to heal myself. I am not sure about this new disease, I will deal with it when it attacks me. Otherwise I am not scared.,” says Manto.

But not all the villagers are complacent. Thembisile Mgwaqa says he is anxious because some of the people that tested positive are close friends.

“I having a long cough and I have just decided to go to the clinic for testing. I need to be tested because most of the people that I met have tested positive. This is very painful because we cannot play with our grandchildren, because of the flue so it is bad and we are anxious and we do not know what to do because there is no protection in this village,” says Mgwaqa.

Mgwaqa says they need more protection and education around this pandemic.

“The most critical issue here is the issue of protection and education regarding the COVID-19, we just heard about police, the army and the protection tools we do not have that. The reports that some of the people we know are positive have a psychological impact to some of us because we really do not know what to do,” says Mgwaqa.

KwaMajola Local Chief Nolundi Meji says people are reluctant to comply with the COVID-19 regulations. “Some of the people were told that should they be found infected will be taken out of the community to the health facilities but they literally removed because they believe that the treatment at the government health facilities is dehumanizing and they would remain at their homes,” says Meji.

Port St Johns mayor Nomvuzo Mlombile-Cingo says they will embark on a massive education campaign.

“There has been a sense of not taking this issue not seriously but I guarantee you that we are going to have a campaign with loud hailers from ward 1 and 20 because our belief is that it is not good to concentrate only to the people of Majola are related to other villages, but we are trying to make them realize and understand the seriousness of the situation,” says Cingo.

Eastern Cape Health Department Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo has urged all stakeholders to work together to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the province.

“You go to rural areas in this province. People are just walking around spreading the virus. We need people to work with us. We need people to respect the law and to realize the seriousness of the danger. It needs all of us to start working together and stop blaming each other. This is not the time to politicize this crisis,” says Kupelo.

The authorities fear that the trend in Majola can replicate in other villages in the province if people do not adhere to the regulations.

In the video below, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane briefs media on COVID-19 response plan:

SANDF
SANDF opens fraud case against company supplying soldiers with meals
25 April 2020, 6:00 PM

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has opened a fraud case against a company called SERAC with the military police in Pretoria. The company, which makes ready-to-eat meals, allegedly supplied the SANDF with expired ration packs. SANDF members have been deployed across the country to assist the police to manage the coronavirus lockdown regulations.

Soldiers on the ground during the COVID-19 lockdown operation, explaining how they were supplied with expired ration packs. This has led to many of them being forced to buy their own food although their food allowances have been discontinued.

The South African National Defence Union (SANDU) says this should be addressed urgently. The union’s national secretary Advocate Pikkie Greeff says they are yet to receive alternative plans from the SANDF.

The video below shows concerns over deployment of SANDF during lockdown:

“Proper support of the people that keep South Africans safe is of paramount importance. So, if there’s any controversy or questions around dates on ration packs, they need to be addressed properly and through right channels by the defence force itself who obtained these ration packs for the members. Our greatest concern is what the alternative plan might be to feed our soldiers. We requested the SANDF to inform us of the alternative we could not get a response,” says Greeff.

The acting director for Defence Corporate Communications Louis Kirstein has confirmed that the SANDF has opened a fraud case against the supplying company.

“I can confirm that the National Defence Force has laid a charge of fraud against the suppliers of ration packs with the military personnel deployed in COVID-19 lockdown operation. We have done this after it was discovered that the supplied ration packs were expired. The case was opened with the medical police in Pretoria and they have appointed the dedicated team to investigate the case. Those found to be on the wrong side of the law must face the full might of the law. We are in the process of making sure all our soldiers receive food,” says Kirstein.

The company at the centre of this storm has refuted allegations that some of the food packs were expired.

SERAC CEO Steven Weir explains the deliverance of these ration packs. “What actually happened is that the ration packs is one pack of food for one soldier for one day. Inside that pack there are 85 items. Inside the pack there were also three items, which had a best before date. There is no expiry date anywhere on any pack. They were designed to last a long time. The confusion came with those three items out of the 85. So, we are discussing with SANDF to find way of resolving the confusion,” explains Weir.

SERAC has recalled all the affected ration packs.

More details on SANDF deployment in the video below:

Gabriele Gravina
Serie A clubs to donate COVID-19 test kits
25 April 2020, 3:40 PM

Clubs in Italy’s Serie A will donate five COVID-19 test kits for every one they use once they start training for a possible resumption of the season, a report in the Corriere dello Sport newspaper said on Saturday.

The report said the suggestion was part of proposals drawn up by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and sent to the government, which will have the final say on whether clubs can start training again.

The move could help answer any criticism that soccer could be taking away much-needed resources such as testing kits if it is allowed to re-start.

The FIGC, whose president is Gabriele Gravina, is hoping clubs can resume training in May, although sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora said on Wednesday he was still not ready to approve a date.

The FIGC has already published some details of its proposal. It says players and staff at each club – or around 40 to 50 people – should be tested and then isolated in a training camp to begin their preparations.

For the first week, players would have to train individually, respecting social distancing guidelines. If, after that, there are no positive cases, teams can start normal training.

In an interview with the same newspaper, a leading Italian virologist said it would not be necessary to stop the whole competition if a player tested positive.

Francesco Vaia, of the Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases, said the re-opening of the country, including football, needed a combination of “common sense and science which should go hand-in-hand”.

“We don’t have to stop everything if a player tests positive,” Vaia said. “The answer is to treat football in the same way as the healthcare workers. If I find a healthcare worker who tests positive, I don’t suspend everyone from work.

“We put those who came into contact with him under observation with blood tests and swabs.”

KwaZulu-Natal bearing the brunt of COVID-19 deaths in SA
21 April 2020, 5:01 PM

The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department says it is unsure as to why the province bears the brunt of the country’s COVID-19 deaths.

South Africa’s first confirmed positive coronavirus case came from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal. As of April 20th, the province bears the burden of 23 deaths and more than 600 infections.

Earlier this week, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said, “All is not well in KwaZulu-Natal” as the province battles the country’s highest number of COVID-19 related deaths.

A huge concern for the provincial health department remains the rising number of private sector infections. Two private hospitals in the Netcare group have been forced to close their doors after both patients and healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19.

At St Augustine’s Hospital, at least five patients died from COVID-19 related complications and 66 healthcare workers and patients tested positive for the virus.

KwaZulu-Natal Health HOD Doctor Sandile Tshabalala says they are keeping a close watch of private hospitals.

“We need to go back and try to check what were the relations to these patients and their comorbidities. So, the worry is that we are confused why there are so many deaths. We can’t be contributing 23 out of 54 deaths. We have not been able to come with a scientific statement that says HIV and COVID-19 are related,” says Tshabalala.

In this video below, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala speaks on lockdown measures:

‘Practice protective measures’

The department believes that instances of moonlighting by some healthcare workers can double their risk of contracting and transmitting the virus.

“There is an aspect that says to us some staff work in the public sector and then will go work in the private sector and most of that staff turning positive. So, are there relations we think there are,” says Tshabalala.

Health practitioners like Doctor Prithy Ramlackan are also appealing to densely populated communities to practice protective measures. The province today launched its Informal Settlement Sanitisation Programme in this regard.

“We need to protect ourselves and keep the virus within 1cm of its origin, which is your mouth. If you have a mask on you keep the virus there and if you are in a densely populated township at least you will keep the virus away from others and your family,” says Ramlackan.

Experts have repeatedly warned that South Africa’s confirmed infections are not a true reflection of the spread of the virus.

In this video below KZN Premier addresses the media:

 

COVID-19
SA’s number of COVID-19 cases rises to 3158 with 54 deaths
19 April 2020, 8:39 PM

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Sout Africa has risen to 3158 – a rise of 124 from Saturday’s confirmed numbers. The Health Department says the total number of tests conducted is 114 711.

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In a statement, the department says two more COVID-19 related deaths have been recorded, extending the number of deaths to 52 since Saturday. These deaths are recorded in the KwaZulu Natal province and Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has conveyed condolences to the families.

KZN to intensify lockdown measures from Monday

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has announced that the province will intensify lockdown measures from Monday.

Zikalala has been briefing the media in Durban saying that all is not well in the province, which has the highest number of COVID-19 related deaths at 21.

He says screening and testing, as well as stricter law enforcement operations will be implemented, to limit people’s movements.

“The Provincial Command Council decided on Friday to implement an intensified lockdown in the eThekwini District. We’ve issued a directive to our law enforcement authorities to apply the law in it’s strictest form and to make sure that there are no compromises. We want them to make sure that the violation of the breakdown by the people who are supposed to be at home is met with (concomitant) punishment,” says Zikalala.

In this video below KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala addresses the media:

Meanwhile, a Pick and Pay store in Alexandra in the north of Johannesburg has temporarily been closed after two staff members tested positive for the coronavirus. The store says it has traced those who were in close contact with the employees to be screened by health officials.

In a statement, the store says all staff members who were not in close contact with the employees will also be screened by health practitioners as a precautionary measure. It says it is deep cleaning and sanitizing and will re-open once this has been complete.

Earlier this month, Pick and Pay introduced several measures to protect customers and staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these were Perspex screens at till points at all stores and floor markers for social distancing. The store says it has notified the Department of Health. It says it will re-open after the deep cleaning of the store.

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