The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to institute a mandatory self-quarantine period of 14 days for all travellers from high-risk European countries, whether they are symptomatic or not.

This follows the World Health Organisation’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic and the increase in the numbers of infected people in South Africa to 17.

The party says that government needs to increase its measures to deal with the virus. The DA also intends to formally write to Mkhize to table its recommendation for consideration.

The DA says it is concerning that the new infections recorded are from outside the initial group of 10 travellers who visited Italy and are people who have recently landed back in South Africa from certain European countries. It says it is also worrying that the details around the first recorded first local transmission case are unclear.

The party is calling for self-quarantine of 14 days for travellers from high-risk European countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Dubai, saying that this will serve as a preventative strategy to ensure asymptotic travellers are not missed at the initial screening procedure and the Department of Health does not have to trace contacts of multiple travellers should they eventually present with symptoms.

COVID-19 inter-ministerial team in Limpopo

Meanwhile, a closed meeting between member of the African National Congress (ANC) Limpopo executive and the COVID-19 inter-ministerial task team is under way at the party’s provincial headquarters in Polokwane.

Minister Mkhize is leading the inter-ministerial team. The ANC wants clarity following reports that South Africans who will be repatriated from China will be quarantined for 21 days at a hotel outside Polokwane.

The ANCYL’s Task Team in the Peter Mokaba Region raised the issue of a quarantine facility for South African citizens returning from China on Wednesday.

They say they would prefer for each province to host their residents returning on Friday, instead of Limpopo hosting the whole group.

ANC provincial spokesperson, Donald Selamolela says that they want clarity on how Limpopo was chosen and the implications for the public.

Those attending the meeting to discuss the issue include Police Minister Bheki Cele, Local Government Doctor Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Home Affairs minister, Doctor Aaron Motsoaledi and Premier Stan Mathabatha, who is also ANC provincial chairperson.

In this video below Health Minister Zweli Mkhize briefs ANC officials in Limpopo:

Self-quarantine

However, the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) has criticised a decision by government for people to self-quarantine themselves, following the coronavirus pandemic.

It says this is an indication that government does not have correct testing equipment at airports and good health systems. NUPSAW says there are a number of reasons why self-quarantine will not work. The union says many individuals will find it impossible to remain in confinement for at least two weeks and monitor themselves.

The organisation also says there is a high risk of people passing infections at malls while some will likely ignore medical advice.

NUPSAW says people have been encouraged to regularly wash their hands but some communities do not have access to water. The union believes that government is not ready to deal with coronavirus.