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Gauteng Health Dept looks at ways to reduced overcrowding at public hospitals
22 March 2020, 9:06 PM

The Gauteng Health Department has cancelled all elective surgeries in public hospitals and will be providing chronic patients with three-month supply of medicine from Monday morning in a bid to stop congestion at public health facilities.

Last week, the department also announced restrictions to be imposed on hospital visiting hours.

Only two visits per patient will be allowed.

Gauteng has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

The Department’s Kwara Kekana says, “All annual health events are cancelled. The Outpatients Department will reduce the number of patient visits by using the appointment system. Patients will also be encouraged to use the Pele Boxes for collection and for medication. A separate place for patients will flu-like symptoms will be identified in facilities. The Thuthuzela healthcare centres services will be extended beyond providing forensic services.”

Non-governmental organisation, Gift of the Givers, has, meanwhile, called on South Africans to unite and fight the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

The map below tracks coronavirus cases across the world:

Below is a hand-washing challenge, demonstrating how to keep your hands clean to stay safe:

The NGO has begun implementing a number of measures to aid government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organisation has set up a testing facility in Mayfair, Johannesburg to offer COVID-19 testing at a reduced rate to all patients who meet the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) criteria.

Another two facilities will be opened in Roshnee and at The Dome in Johannesburg.

Gift of the Givers on Monday will erect tents at three hospitals in Johannesburg to separate suspected COVID-19 infected patients from the medical staff and the general public as they wait to get tested.

Gift of the Givers founder, Imitiaz Sooliman says, “Anybody who’s prepared to volunteer to help us at the dome in Johannesburg  at the hospital in Durban or our sites in Roshnee are most welcome to call in. They can call our toll free line 0800 786 911.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation on Sunday night after meeting with the business sector and political parties at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Public warned against traditional healers that claim to cure COVID-19
22 March 2020, 8:27 PM

The KwaZulu-Natal Traditional Healers Council has warned against traditional healers that claim to be able to cure coronavirus (COVID-19).

This follows reports that some traditional leaders are spreading false information about the virus.

The Organisation of Traditional Healers in KwaZulu-Natal is concerned that fraudsters may take advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak by claiming to be able to heal the virus.

Former Chairperson of the Council, Sazi Mhlongo has urged members of the public to be vigilant.

He says, “In this country, we have got a lot of charlatans. But I know also that there are people that are going to claim to be healing coronavirus. People must not go to those people because they are going to kill them. No one has a cure right now, but we, as traditional healers, are used when there’s flu in the country. There are herbs that we use for the flu, but we cannot guarantee that those herbs that we have can heal this one. So, people must not play games with this one.”

The organisation’s Chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal, Sbusiso Gumede, has also called on traditional healers to immediately refer patients showing symptoms of coronavirus to clinics and hospitals.

He says, “We must be on alert that some imposters and people who will go around deceiving people that they treat this virus. Coming to another point, we, as traditional healers, when treating other illness, we look for symptoms, and if it we feel that a patient needs to go to the clinic or hospital, we do refer them accordingly. Likewise, now we call on traditional healers to look for the symptoms of the coronavirus and do the same thing; refer those patients to clinics and hospitals immediately.”

Meanwhile, traditional healers have called on government to involve them in the dissemination of information about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Below is a Live Tracking of the cases, death toll and other information, updated daily:

Meshoe tests for COVID-19, awaits results
22 March 2020, 8:02 PM

Leader of the ACDP Reverend Kenneth Meshoe has tested for coronavirus and is awaiting the results. This after five international tourists, with whom he attended a church service in Bloemfontein earlier this month, tested positive.

Meshoe has dismissed reports that he had tested positive for the virus.

In the video below, Meshoe says his test results will only be available in about four days:

He says, “They say it takes two to three days to get the results. The officials that were there made some very positive comments, ‘you do not show any symptoms of being infected.’ I’m not surprised if this thing was started by somebody who hates me and who hopes that I will be positive and maybe even die. You can call me after four days to talk about it.”

On Wednesday, Meshoe attended a meeting in Parliament along with President Cyril Ramaphosa and other political parties.

Presidential Spokesperson Khusela Diko says all protocols with regards to tracing and testing for the COVID-19 pandemic will be followed for everyone without exception.

While Meshoe says he is feeling fine, Diko says the Presidency will be monitoring developments.

She says, “We will watch the situation around Reverend Meshoe closely and we will be guided again by those protocols should those who were in contact with Reverend Meshoe. Remember, should he test positive for the coronavirus, then immediately it triggers that process where those who were in contact with him are then traced and then themselves asked to subject themselves to self-isolation and then testing.”

Coronavirus medical supplies donated by Alibaba’s Jack Ma arrive in Ethiopia
22 March 2020, 5:31 PM

The first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday, as coronavirus cases in Africa rose above 1,100.

The virus has spread more slowly in Africa than in Asia or Europe, but has a foothold in 41 African nations and two territories. So far, it has claimed 37 lives across the continent of 1.3 billion people.

The shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.

Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said on Sunday.

Below is a Live Tracking of the cases, death toll and other information, updated daily:

“The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.

“The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”

The shipment had a sign attached with the slogan, “When people are determined they can overcome anything”.

The supplies will be distributed across Africa, with countries particularly “vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic” to receive theirs first, the statement said, adding that more supplies will be sent to Ethiopia in the coming weeks.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Twitter that the distribution of supplies will start on Monday.

The ability to test for the virus is one of the key strategies to control the outbreak, Ethiopia health minister Lia Tadesse told reporters, hailing the aid initiative at a ceremony to receive the supplies.

Africa CDC warned that some coronavirus cases may be slipping through undetected.

“More kits does not necessarily mean more tests. Tests are conducted on persons suspected to be infected,” Africa CDC spokesman James Ayodele told Reuters.

Business sector tables proposals to mitigate COVID-19 impact on economy
22 March 2020, 5:14 PM

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel says business has contributed excellent ideas and proposals to government with regards to mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

Representatives of business organisations including Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), the Banking Association and large insurance companies met with President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings a short while ago on Sunday.

The engagement was aimed at ensuring that a consolidated economic plan takes into account the business sector’s recommendations.

Patel says the details will be announced during the President’s address to the nation later on Sunday.

He says, “We gave a report on the work that government is doing; the work that we are doing in monitoring the impact of the global slowdown in our own economy, because we sell goods to other parts of the world. We shared with the business community also the work we are doing to ensure basic stocks of health products in South Africa, that there are food and other stocks to our people. We provided information on competition exemptions and price regulations that have been published in the last number of days. We also talked about what we can do to protect vulnerable enterprise particularly small businesses.”

In the video below, business, political parties unite in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic:

Richard Wainwright of the Banking Association says banks and financial services companies are well-placed to play an important role in alleviating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Wainwright, together with other business representatives, was part of the group that met with President Ramaphosa.

Wainwright spoke to media after the business leaders’ meeting with the president.

He says, “Our members and the industry are very well-positioned to collaborate with business. Our clients with government, with our regulators, in helping the nation deal with this crisis that we are facing. We have, to date, already been working extensively through the various ministries and the regulatory bodies to ensure that we play our role and it is a critical and significant role that we can play as banks and financial services companies in helping South Africa deal with this country.”

Some sections of society, including the Democratic Alliance, have called for a nation-wide four-month payment holiday on loans for small and medium businesses, in particular property loans, business loans, and vehicle loans.

Standard Bank has announced a three-month payment holiday for small business owners and students with loans at the bank to give some relief to customers as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.

Standard Bank’s head of personal and business banking, Funeka Montjane, says clients who are in good standing will qualify automatically for the reprieve.

She says business must have a turnover of less than R20 million rand to qualify.

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