eThekwini and Ilembe continue to be coronavirus (COVID-19) hotspots in KwaZulu-Natal. KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala revealed this while briefing the media on the state of the province to reopen schools.

He says he remains concerned about the backlog in the return of COVID-19 test results.

To date, the province has over 3 000 infections with 61 deaths.

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Zikalala says Ilembe has been identified as the region with the highest incidence rate.

“From eThekweni to Ilembe, the two districts continue to contribute more than 80% of the total cases provincially and if you put them together, they contribute 2 465. eThekwini metropolitan council contributes 82% of the reported deaths followed by Ilembe.”

Reopening of schools

Zikalala has reassured educators, parents and learners that protecting lives is the priority. He says the education department has secured (Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for the next six months.

In the video below, the KZN government says 4 200 public schools in the province are ready to reopen: 

Zikalala has acknowledged that some challenges remain, especially for rural schools to reopen.

“While we are moving ahead with opening of schools, we must be clear the first priority is to protect lives, protect learners, educators and all officials involved. Then ensure that we open so that we don’t disrupt the academic year. We want to state upfront that they will be no compromise to the safety and well-being of our learners and teachers.”

Healthcare workers

Zikalala has cautioned healthcare workers against what he terms “rapid labour unrest” in instances where workers protest for the closure of healthcare facilities when a colleague tests positive for COVID-19.

In the video below, staff at a Free State hospital down tools for fear of contracting COVID-19: 

The Premier says proper procedures need to be followed, but that does not necessarily include the immediate closure of the healthcare facility.

“We follow guidelines. The guidelines give a clear indication on how each area must be managed once a case is found. The incidents were you see the rapid labor unrest associated with the infections of health care workers is discouraged. If employees and unions working together with management teams must engage and guided by the guidelines must discuss how to resolve each and every case.”

In the video below, Sihle Zikalala briefs the media on the KZN state of readiness to open schools: 

104 schools not ready

Provincial education MEC Kwazi Mshengu says 104 schools in KwaZulu-Natal are not yet ready to open their classrooms.

The province has over 6 000 schools. Mshengu says the main challenge has been access to clean water. He says schools that are not 100% compliant to open for the safety of educators and learners, will not be forced to do so.

“The Umkanyakude Zululand as well as Tugela. Most of these schools find them there. An we have agreed where there is no 100% compliance that school will not be opened. The Premier was very empathetic that it’s life first then everything else.”

Mshengu has confirmed that screeners will be available to check all learners before they use scholar transport starting on Monday. The MEC also elaborated on the department’s plan for a phased return to school for other Grades.

“Other grades may come in the morning and leave an then others during the day and leave in the afternoon. The second option is what we call day shift were we we bring grades on different days. Other grades will come on Monday Wednesday and Friday and others will come on Tuesday as well as Thursday. The third option will be the work shift setting up of grades will come the whole week and be given enough work for the following week and then following week we bring other grades so that we always ensure that a school operating at a maximum of 50 percent capacity as it were.”