Saturday marks 100 days since South Africa went under lockdown.
Since then the country has moved from banning alcohol sales, church services, movement of non-essential workers, visits to salons and restaurants to lifting the bans. However, strict conditions are attached to the sectors’ continued operation.
For instance, alcohol is sold on selected days and hours and eateries are mandated to adhere to stringed health and safety rules. No more than 50 people can sit at a restaurant at a time.
While the health department has all along been focused on curbing the spread of COVID-19, it also faces a difficult task of dealing with patients suffering from chronic illnesses.
“Our facilities don’t have space; worst of all you will find people not adhering,” says Positive Action Campaign Secretary, Sello Mkhalipi.
In the video below, the SA public health system is under scrutiny:
South Africa reported its first COVID-19 case on March 5, 2020. Currently the country has 177 124 infections and 2 952. The number of recoveries is at 86 298, translating to 48.7%.
Visiting hours were reduced in hospitals and in some facilities completely cancelled as cases rise.
Workers have raised concerns of shortage of Personal Protective Equipment and recently, at one of the country’s public hospitals’ mortuary, there were claims of COVID-19 corpses being mixed with others.
In the video below, the government says it’s faced over 100 legal challenges:
Workers unions have had their hands full.
“We are running in all departments arguing simple thing the existence of occupational and safety committees; including their functionality. Because in some departments we are just given lists and their functionality; there’s no clarity. It is those committees at the floor level that will make sure that the employer in compliant and members are not rendered vulnerable,” Nehawu Free State organiser, Jabu Makhubo, says.
Although government introduced and eased lockdown regulations, it remains residents’ responsibility to adhere to the regulations.
“We must apply hygiene mechanism. We must make sure social distance is adhered to. If we don’t follow proper measure we will die,” one resident has told SABC News.
The Free State Health Department is constantly increasing isolation and quarantine areas as number of cases rises in the province.
Undertakers and emergency services personnel have received special training on how to handle COVID-19 cases.
Provincial Health MEC Montsheng Tsiu says the department has also hired more healthcare workers to increase manpower on the ground.
“We are increasing the beds at Pelonomi Hospital, at Bongani, Boitumelo and Universitas hospitals. We are also going to get more oxygen machines. There are also hospitals earmarked, but that is still subject to consultation with communities. We want to turn those smaller institutions into COVID-19 hospitals and what we have done is that we have requested all nurses that are unemployed to come forward. We want to increase our staff not only nurses, but also doctors and community healthcare workers. We want to increase the people that will be working with us in fighting this coronavirus.”
The national Department of Health says it is increasing its effort to be able to handle the spike of COVID-19.
Military medics are being dispatched to the Eastern Cape to assist after the provincial government raised the alarm over the system being overwhelmed. Gauteng and other provinces are also jerking up their efforts to flatten the curve.
South Africa’s economic hub has even suggested stricter lockdown for the province, saying consultations to that effect are ongoing.
Below is the provincial breakdown of SA’s COVID-19 cases:
In the video below, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize gives a COVID-19 update: