Gauteng has prepared sites for potential mass burials as the province surpasses the Western Cape as the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa.
Provincial Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and officials from the forensic pathology services visited the area reserved for COVID-19 burials in Tshwane on Wednesday.
Gauteng recorded a total of 75 015 confirmed cases after 3 527 new infections were recorded overnight, while the Western Cape had 73 292 confirmed cases.
During a National Assembly hybrid sitting on Wednesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize revealed that more than 4 800 health workers have tested positive for COVID-19 by the end of June with nurses being mostly affected, saying the Western Cape accounts for most of the cases.
“As on the 30th of June 4821 health workers were reported to have been infected with COVID-19 across the country. This data represents cases of Health Workers in both Public and Private sector with the Western Cape continuing to account for the majority which is 68 percent of healthcare workers with 3285 infections as of the 29th of June 2020…”
Mkhize says, ““The leading number of infection are among the nurses with 2474 infections followed by other healthcare professionals, including community health workers reporting 1971 and doctors recording 377 infections.”
Gauteng preparing sites as infections soar:
In response to Mkhize’s statement Democratic Alliance (DA) member of parliament Siviwe Gwarube told the minister that one of the urgent steps that must be taken to save lives is to place the Eastern Cape Health Department under administration.
Gwarube says the provincial health department has failed in its response to fight COVID-19 in the province.
She says, “The Premier of the province has admitted that they have lost the battle against this virus. Hospitals in the province has long reached full capacity; healthcare workers are getting infected and those who are left to hold the fort do so at a great cost to their lives; people are fighting each other for mere oxygen in hospitals; all the while the provincial government invests tens of millions of rands on glorified scooters that you personally endorsed.”
Freedom Front Plus MP Philip van Staden also criticised the Eastern Cape government for its stance in the fight against COVID-19.
Van Staden sasy,“We see every day but instead of getting ventilators and extra hospital beds, this government is buying motorcycles in the fight against COVID-19 instead of adequate ambulance vehicles. We have seen COVID-19 tests found next to the N2 in the Eastern Cape putting people’s lives in danger. Doctor and nurses are trying to do their work with the little they have.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Omphile Maotwe once again slammed Mkhize for not having a racial breakdown of the people who are infected with COVID-19 and those who are dying of the virus, accusing the government of ignoring advice from the EFF.
Maotwe says, “We have argued that schools must stay closed until you have passed the peak of the pandemic Minister, but you ignored us. Now teachers and children are infected in their thousands. We have argued for banning the sale of alcohol and again you ignored us, and now hospital beds are taken by people who are injured while under the influence of alcohol or those injured by drunk people…”
“We have asked that you must release the racial breakdown of COVID-19 infections and deaths. You ignored that, because you know that deep-down that it is black people who die in their numbers, when its white people you would not be as careless as you are,” says Maotwe.
United Democratic Movement (UDM) Chief Whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa had concerns about the lack of contact tracing that can spread the virus.
Kwankwa says, “One of the issues which are of major concern for us as a party, it seems like even contact tracing has completely collapsed. In some instances people are told that you only thought you came into contact with someone who tested positive with coronavirus and those who have come into contact are only told to go and test only if they have symptoms. And now the challenge with that is as you are aware – is that those who are not symptomatic might end up spreading the virus to other vulnerable members of society without being aware obviously of these issues.”
Meanwhile National Freedom Party (NFP) MP Achmed Shaik-Emam says the Western Cape has failed to curb the spread of the virus while it was at the forefront of calling for the lockdown regulations to be eased.
Shaik-Emam says, “Indeed we do have problems nationally – let us not run away from that. But just give me one example, just one. What did you do in the Western Cape to keep those numbers low. And I am saying this because I am based here at the moment. You gave us the assurance that you will put measures if we ease the regulations. Have you done that? No you have not done that. Come with me because I don’t know where you live. Come with me and I will show you on the streets of this Western Cape. In the Townships – nothing – nothing can be seen. You know our people are dying. They are being infected everyday. But you are looking for faults rather than saying yes we too haven’t done enough.”
Congress of the People’s (COPE) Willy Madisha has also cautioned MPs that the fight against COVID-19 affects all provinces and that comparison to criticise other provinces, is wrong.
Madisha says, “There is I must say a problem where people have reason to say in this province things are worse. In that other province things are better. That is not true. I think in that way we have become limited in so far as our thinking capacity is concerned, South Africa is a unitary state. It’s one government. You therefore can’t say in the Western Cape, things are like this. In the other province, things are like this. We are wrong if we come up with that kind of situation. The Western Cape is part of South Africa, Gauteng is South Africa etc..”
The Good Party has paid tribute to some of the front line workers who are at the forefront of facing the coronavirus.
Good MP Shaun August says, “Where will we be without the nurses, doctors, police and prison warders, the cleaners, garbage collectors, drivers and grocery store workers. It is these brave front line workers that continue to keep our country and our health care systems operational during the lockdown. They are our unsung heroes,”
South Africa’s readiness for rising COVID-19 infections under the spotlight:
Parliament’s Health Committee Chairperson and ANC MP Sibongiseni Dhlomo says while the World Health Organisation (WHO) still has to give its position on whether the coronavirus is airborne, he emphasised that people should wear their masks.
Dhlomo says, “Whether it is or not airborne, I would therefore want us to engage ourselves and day with all the things that we do, let us please wear a mask. When I wear a mask in public, or decline an invitation to a party or to come inside the house, I would want you to know that I have been educated enough to know that I could be without symptoms but still be able to give you a virus. I do not live in fear of the virus, I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.”