EFF asks government to institute urgent measures to protect the poor from coronavirus

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Parliament has called on government to institute urgent measures to protect poor South Africans from the coronavirus (COVID-19) and not just monitor the country’s points of entry.

This, as the first case in South Africa has been confirmed in KwaZulu Natal on Thursday. The Department of Health says a patient is a 38-year-old man who travelled to Italy with his wife.

Speaking during a debate on COVID-19, EFF MP Naledi Chirwa says government must do door to door campaigns to inform the citizens of the symptoms to look out for with regards to the virus.

“The majority of our people use alternative modes of transport and our country borders don’t start and end at OR Tambo international airport. What tracking mechanisms have the department devised for townships and rural are public spaces, how will you track down taxi and train passengers who are sitting next to an infected person? The minister must conduct a comprehensive stakeholders and community engagement plan of action to inspire and coordinate a multi-sectoral and partnered intervention. The department must also find out the monthly cost of dealing with coronavirus should it seep into the country as we have learnt today it already has. Such viruses are a bigger threat to the poor who will not have the means to buy food in bulk and lock themselves in their houses.”

The National Assembly debates SA government’s planned coronavirus interventions


Necessary precautions 

South Africans have been urged to take the necessary precautions in order to reduce their risk of contracting the deadly Coronavirus.

Wits University Professor Shabir Madhi says people must wash their hands thoroughly and often. Prof Madhi says people should also avoid visiting busy public places.

“The type of precaution one needs to take is to reduce their risk of infection is not from the precautionary one should be taking to prevent the risk of being infected by other viruses, for example, influenza. The single most important measure that an individual needs to take is to wash your hands and minimise your exposure to crowded spaces.”

Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament Siviwe Gwarube wants the Inter-Ministerial Task Team’s decision to repatriate 150 South Africans from Wuhan in China to be tabled, scrutinised and adopted by Parliament.

Gwarube was opening the debate in the National Assembly on South Africa’s state of readiness to deal with the coronavirus.

President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier established a task team responsible for the repatriation of over  150 citizens from China.

Gwarube says parliament has a crucial role to play. “It is important when the President convenes an Inter-Ministerial Task Team that decides to repatriate over 150 South Africans from Wuhan, China, the decision is tabled, scrutinised and adopted by Parliament. It does not bode down well for the function of this House, which is enshrined in the Constitution, that issues of national significance are discussed in the press before the oversight arm of the state has had an opportunity to engage these plans.”

First SA coronavirus case confirmed 

The Department of Health says a patient is a 38-year-old man who travelled to Italy with his wife.

The man and his wife were part of a group of ten people who toured Italy in February. They arrived back in South Africa on the 1 March.

According to the Department of Health, the patient consulted a private doctor two days later with symptoms of fever, headache, a sore throat and a cough. The patient has since been isolated.

It is believed the couple also has two children. The Department says a tracer team has been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal with epidemiologists and clinicians from NICD. The doctor has been self-isolated as well.

KwaZulu-Natal province has identified four hospitals to deal with the virus…


– Additional reporting by Prabashini Moodley.