President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government is concerned with the job losses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ramaphosa was speaking during his visit to assess Mpumalanga province’s response to the coronavirus in Mbombela.

The province currently accounts for 0,9% of infections, nationally.

Accompanied by Ministers, among them of Health Zweli Mkhize and Basic Education Angie Motshekga, Ramaphosa commended Mpumalanga’s efforts in mitigating the impact of the virus. He encouraged Grade 12 learners of Cyril Clarke High School in Mattafin, near Mbombela, to observe COVID-19 regulations and study hard.

The province is one of those with the lowest number of people infected with the coronavirus. It has more than 1 400 positive cases with more than 400 recoveries and 7 deaths so far.

President Ramaphosa is in Mpumalanga to assess COVID-19 measures in the province:

Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane attributed the low infection rate to a strategy adopted by the province.

The strategy focuses on prevention, detecting and managing infections as well as burials of those who succumb to the virus. “We have sufficient land to bury them within the municipality as a province we have already procured the bags to be utilised at this point in time and we are happy with COGTA foe working with municipalities to identify dedicate land for the aftermath of COVID -19.”

Ramaphosa commended the province’s response in fighting the spread of the coronavirus. He said other provinces can replicate what Mpumalanga is doing. However, he raised concern with the economy shedding more jobs amid the COVID-19.

“We are developing various ways of responding to the jobs that are being lost when we moved to the other level and level 3 we were responding trying to stem the job losses that could ensue under hard lockdown, what we are trying to do is to balance saving lives and preserving livelihoods and it’s a delicate balance and we will continue on this part.”

High infection rate in provinces 

Meanwhile, Minister for Health Zweli Mkhize expressed concern with the high rate of infection in other provinces, saying the situation may lead to more beds needed.

“In some instances, it will mean put marquees and have beds that can be occupied within a short space of time as the numbers are coming up which is what is going on in Gauteng, therefore we are taking additional proposals”

Mpumalanga has so far conducted 4.5 million coronavirus screening. The number of tests conducted stands at 44 000.

Command Council to assess hardest-hit provinces

Ramaphosa says the National Coronavirus Command Council will assess the situation in the hardest-hit provinces and re-evaluate its response in terms of the lockdown regulations. Gauteng and the Eastern Cape have experienced a recent surge in infections.

The Western Cape is still the hardest-hit province in the country. The Gauteng Coronavirus Command Centre is meeting to determine whether the province should be placed under stricter lockdown measures.

The President was speaking while in Mpumalanga to assess that province’s readiness for the expected peak in infections.

“I know that the Gauteng coronavirus command centre is meeting, they are going to come back to us with a number of initiatives which they believe need to be taken and we will listen to that at the National Command Council. We will examine the situation in Gauteng, in the Eastern Cape and indeed in the Western Cape very carefully to see how best our response can be realigned or reconfigured to deal with the situation that we face now.”

Appeal for behavioral change 

On Thursday Gauteng Premier David Makhura said that it is worrying that Gauteng has the largest number of active cases, appealing for a behavioral change.

“Harder lockdown being localised in some of the areas where things are just getting out of hand. The infection rate is just getting out of hand; people are not observing any of the measures that have been put in place. So this Saturday we are doing consultations about exploring some of the reintroduction of the harsher measures. Some of them may include issues pertaining to alcohol.”

Makhura said the storm has reached the province and will continue for as long as there are mass gatherings such as funerals and marches. Below is an update of the coronavirus situation in Gauteng.