The government says funeral gatherings and travel between provinces are still the main causes of the spread of the coronavirus.
Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, says interactions during gatherings make it difficult for the government to consider increasing the number of people allowed to attend.
Currently, gatherings are limited to 50 people. Dlamini-Zuma was addressing the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during a debate on COVID-19 in parliament.
The Minister says while the government has made significant steps to prepare health facilities, increase the number of hospital beds and implemented other measures since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, social distancing is still a challenge.
“Challenges like funerals have proven to be a place where transmission takes place very easily and that is why funerals are restricted to only 50 people with a very strict protocol. And that is why inter-provincial travel is still not allowed.”
Increase in production of PPEs
Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, noted that the government has managed to increase the production capacity of Personal Protective Equipment within a very short space of time.
“(We are) Confronted with the need for Personal Protective Equipment and medical devices. We developed an integrated health stalks and database. And we work closely with the local industry to repurpose the production machinery of our country to make face masks and sanitisers, surgical masks and gowns. And of course, basic ventilated machines. Let me take the example of the medical-grade face masks. We have been able to ramp our production by six million additional masks a month, virtually doubling the local production capacity in less than three months.”
Municipalities negatively affected
Meanwhile, Dlamini-Zuma also revealed that municipalities are struggling to collect revenue during the COVID–19 outbreak because people cannot afford to pay.
“Even those that were able to collect easily before … if we take the City of Joburg, I am sure they will speak for the province, but if we look at Joburg, it has lost a lot of revenue, where it used to collect about 8% just before the lockdown. Now it’s collecting very little. This is going to be a big challenge for us.”
Increase in legal costs
Recently, various civil society groups as well as some political parties have challenged some of the lockdown regulations in court. These include challenges to the constitutionality of the Disaster Management Act, the rationality of the ban on cigarettes, and the re-opening of schools.
The Minister says legal costs are increasing every month.
“The litigation … the government has had more than nine cases. Some of them we have won; some of them we have lost and some of them we have settled out of court and some of them are still ongoing. And interestingly now, there are those who are saying we should have gone to the state of emergency. Others are saying everything that was done is unconstitutional. There are those who are saying we are reckless. We moved too fast, we should not have moved from Level 4 to 3. Others are saying we should not have opened the schools. So, it’s an interesting combination now.”
Below is a breakdown of stats: