SA moves to alert level 3

President Cyril Ramaphosa GCIS.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that South Africa will move to alert lev­el 3 with effect from 1 June — with more sec­tors of the econ­o­my open­ing and the removal of a num­ber of restric­tions on the move­ment of peo­ple.

Address­ing the nation on Sun­day evening on the devel­op­ments in South Africa’s risk-adjust­ed strat­e­gy to man­age the spread of COVID-19, the Pres­i­dent said the coun­try will have a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed approach to deal with areas that have far high­er lev­els of infec­tion and trans­mis­sion.

COVID-19 hotspots

These areas have been declared as Coro­n­avirus hotspots. They include the fol­low­ing met­ros: Tshwane, Johan­nes­burg, Ekurhu­leni, eThek­wi­ni, Nel­son Man­dela Bay, Buf­fa­lo City and Cape Town.

Oth­er areas that have been iden­ti­fied as hotspots are West Coast, Over­berg and Cape Winelands dis­trict munic­i­pal­i­ties in the West­ern Cape, Chris Hani dis­trict in the East­ern Cape, and iLem­be dis­trict in KwaZu­lu-Natal.

A hotspot is defined as an area that has more than five infect­ed peo­ple per every 100 000 peo­ple or where new infec­tions are increas­ing at a fast pace.

To deal with the virus in these areas, gov­ern­ment will imple­ment inten­sive inter­ven­tions aimed at decreas­ing the num­ber of new infec­tions.

“We are putting in place enhanced mea­sures of sur­veil­lance, infec­tion con­trol and man­age­ment. We will assign a full-time team of expe­ri­enced per­son­nel to each hotspot,” the Pres­i­dent said.

This team will include epi­demi­ol­o­gists, fam­i­ly prac­ti­tion­ers, nurs­es, com­mu­ni­ty health work­ers, pub­lic health experts and emer­gency med­ical ser­vices, to be sup­port­ed by Cuban experts.

“We will link each hotspot to test­ing ser­vices, iso­la­tion facil­i­ties, quar­an­tine facil­i­ties, treat­ment, hos­pi­tal beds and con­tact trac­ing.

“Should it be nec­es­sary, any part of the coun­try could be returned to alert lev­els 4 or 5 if the spread of infec­tion is not con­tained despite our inter­ven­tions and there is a risk of our health facil­i­ties being over­whelmed,” he said.

The list of hotspot areas will be reviewed every two weeks depend­ing on the pro­gres­sion of the virus.

Open­ing the econ­o­my

“The imple­men­ta­tion of alert lev­el 3 from the begin­ning of June will involve the return to oper­a­tion of most sec­tors of the econ­o­my, sub­ject to obser­vance of strict health pro­to­cols and social dis­tanc­ing rules. The open­ing of the econ­o­my and oth­er activ­i­ties means that more pub­lic ser­vants will be called back to work,” Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa said.

This will be done in accor­dance with pro­vi­sions of the Occu­pa­tion­al Health and Safe­ty Act and as guid­ed by the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Ser­vice and Admin­is­tra­tion, work­ing togeth­er with all oth­er depart­ments in gov­ern­ment.

The Pres­i­den­t’s address fol­lows recent meet­ings of Cab­i­net, the Nation­al Coro­n­avirus Com­mand Coun­cil and the President’s Coor­di­nat­ing Coun­cil, which con­sid­ered the prospects for the country’s pro­gres­sion from alert lev­el 4 to alert lev­el 3 of the nation­al lock­down.

The Pres­i­dent also held con­sul­ta­tive meet­ings with the busi­ness, labour and com­mu­ni­ty con­stituen­cies of the Nation­al Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment and Labour Coun­cil; lead­ers of polit­i­cal par­ties rep­re­sent­ed in Par­lia­ment; tra­di­tion­al lead­ers; lead­er­ship of inter­faith com­mu­ni­ties; the South African Coun­cil of Church­es and the tourism indus­try, which is the sin­gle largest source of employ­ment in the pri­vate sec­tor.

These con­sul­ta­tions formed government’s efforts to explore pos­si­ble prospects and assess the con­tin­u­ing health, social and eco­nom­ic impacts of the pan­dem­ic.

Pro­to­cols and work­place plans

As more sec­tors of the econ­o­my open, gov­ern­ment will rely on social com­pacts with all key role play­ers to address the key risk fac­tors at the work­place and in the inter­face between employ­ees and the pub­lic.

“We will there­fore be final­is­ing a num­ber of sec­tor pro­to­cols and will require every com­pa­ny to devel­op a work­place plan before they re-open,” he said.

Accord­ing to these plans, com­pa­nies will need to put in place san­i­tary and social dis­tanc­ing mea­sures and facil­i­ties; they will need to screen work­ers on arrival each day, quar­an­tine those who may be infect­ed and make arrange­ments for them to be test­ed.

“They also need to assist with con­tact trac­ing if employ­ees test pos­i­tive. Because of their vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, all staff who are old­er than 60 years of age and those who suf­fer from under­ly­ing con­di­tions such as heart dis­ease, dia­betes, chron­ic res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­ease and can­cer should ide­al­ly stay at home,” the Pres­i­dent said.

Employ­ees who can work from home should be allowed to do so.

Sub­ject to these mea­sures, all man­u­fac­tur­ing, min­ing, con­struc­tion, finan­cial ser­vices, pro­fes­sion­al and busi­ness ser­vices, infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, gov­ern­ment ser­vices and media ser­vices, will com­mence full reopen­ing from 1 June.

 

The appro­pri­ate restart and phas­ing in arrange­ments will need to be put in place for every work­place.

“Whole­sale and retail trade will be ful­ly opened, includ­ing stores, spaza shops and infor­mal traders. E‑commerce will con­tin­ue to remain open. Oth­er sec­tors that opened pre­vi­ous­ly, such as agri­cul­ture and forestry, util­i­ties, med­ical ser­vices, food pro­duc­tion and man­u­fac­ture of hygiene prod­ucts, will remain ful­ly opened,” he said.

High-risk eco­nom­ic activ­i­ties pro­hib­it­ed

High-risk eco­nom­ic activ­i­ties will remain pro­hib­it­ed. These include:

  • Restau­rants, bars and tav­erns, except for deliv­ery or col­lec­tion of food.
  • Accom­mo­da­tion and domes­tic air trav­el, except for busi­ness trav­el, which will be phased in on dates to be announced.
  • Con­fer­ences, events, enter­tain­ment and sport­ing activ­i­ties.
  • Per­son­al care ser­vices, includ­ing hair­dress­ing and beau­ty ser­vices.

Move­ment of peo­ple and sale of alco­hol

Peo­ple will be able to exer­cise at any time dur­ing the day, pro­vid­ed this is not done in groups. The cur­few on the move­ment of peo­ple will be lift­ed.

“Alco­hol may be sold for home con­sump­tion only under strict con­di­tions, on spec­i­fied days and for lim­it­ed hours. Announce­ments in this regard will be made once we have con­clud­ed dis­cus­sions with the sec­tor on the var­i­ous con­di­tions,” the Pres­i­dent said.

The sale of tobac­co prod­ucts will remain pro­hib­it­ed in alert lev­el 3, due to the health risks asso­ci­at­ed with smok­ing.

“All gath­er­ings will remain pro­hib­it­ed, except for funer­als with no more than 50 peo­ple or meet­ings in the work­place for work pur­pos­es,” he said.

COVID-19 stats

South Africa has record­ed a total of 22 583 COVID-19 cas­es, with 11 000 active cas­es and 429 deaths.

“Of these [11 000 active cas­es] 842 patients are in hos­pi­tal and 128 of these are in inten­sive care. The num­ber of infect­ed peo­ple could have been much high­er had we not act­ed when we did to impose dras­tic con­tain­ment mea­sures,” the Pres­i­dent said.

He expressed con­cern for the City of Cape Town in the West­ern Cape which now has more than half the total infec­tions in the coun­try.

“We are attend­ing to this as a mat­ter of urgency,” he said.

More than 580 000 Coro­n­avirus tests have been con­duct­ed and more than 12 mil­lion screen­ings have been done to date.

“There are near­ly 60 000 com­mu­ni­ty health work­ers who have been going door-to-door across the coun­try to iden­ti­fy pos­si­ble cas­es of Coro­n­avirus.

“In prepa­ra­tion for the expect­ed increase in infec­tions, around 20 000 hos­pi­tal beds have been, and are being, repur­posed for COVID-19 cas­es, and 27 field hos­pi­tals are being built around the coun­try. A num­ber of these hos­pi­tals are ready to receive Coro­n­avirus patients,” said the Pres­i­dent.

Safe­ty first

He said gov­ern­ment appre­ci­ates the work that con­tin­ues to be done by pub­lic ser­vants, espe­cial­ly those in the front line in the fight against COVID-19.

“The safe­ty of all work­ers, includ­ing pub­lic ser­vants, is a mat­ter of con­cern to us. We will con­tin­ue to make all efforts for the ade­quate pro­vi­sion of per­son­al pro­tec­tion equip­ment to ensure safe­ty for every­one while at work.

“Our pri­or­i­ty is to reduce the oppor­tu­ni­ties for the trans­mis­sion of the virus and cre­ate a safe envi­ron­ment for every­one,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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