SAA will be hard hit by COVID-19 outbreak: Gordhan

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Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan says South African Airways (SAA), like many other airlines globally will be hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in South Africa has risen to 85.

SAA, which is currently under business rescue has been struggling to keep its fleet airborne as its financial woes continue.

It has cancelled some routes and is talking retrenchments.

Gordhan was addressing the media at the OR Tambo International airport alongside Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi on the imposed travel bans on citizens from high-risk countries.

He says, “Airlines throughout the world are going through financial difficulties. European airlines have asked for € 70 billion from the EU (European Union) to support them to survive. US airlines have asked their government $ 50 billion in order to survive. Some predict that the airline industry in its current form it won’t be existing beyond May this year. So this is the kind of difficulty the COVID-19 has created.”

In the video below, Fikile Mbalula briefed the media on travel bans:

Higher learning institutions

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande says all public institutions of higher learning will go on early recess as of Wednesday until 15 April.

About 2.5 million students at universities and TVET colleges across the country will be affected. The decision will however not affect postgraduate students.

Nzimande met with stakeholders including labour unions, students’ representatives and representatives from various universities, in Pretoria, on Tuesday.

He has appealed to private institutions of higher learning to also suspend academic activities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nzimande briefed the media following talks with role players in the higher learning sector. This is part of consultations on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on measures to combat the COVID-19 epidemic.

Nzimande has advised institutions to make use of the online methods in order to minimise the disruption of the academic activities.

In the video below, SABC’s Ofentse Setimo reports on tertiary institutions early closure:

 ZCC Easter Conference postponed

 The Zion Christian Church (ZCC) has postponed its Easter Conference that was scheduled to take place in April amid the coronavirus pandemic until further notice.

Speaking to SABC News on Tuesday, the church Spokesperson, Reverend Emmanuel Motolla confirmed that the church had decided to postpone their annual pilgrimage and would announce a new date once normality has been restored.

“To set the record straight, the Zion Christian Church has postponed this years’ annual Easter pilgrimage, held at the headquarters of Moria, due to the coronavirus, or known as COVID-19. The church’s spiritual leader, Dr. BE Lekganyane, took the decision on Friday, March 13, 2020, after the church was briefed by the national government delegation, led by the Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize,” says Motolla.

Infographic: Countries affected by SA travel ban

Copy of epidemic v pendamic by SABC Digital News

Additional reporting Phanuel Shuma and Sipho Kekana