“Our towns are small and with just over 200 000 people living in the city (Kimberley), patients will be detected as soon as they are infected”
THE PREMIER, Dr Zamani Saul, indicated yesterday that the Northern Cape is ready to contain the coronavirus in the Province, where any patient who tests positive will be treated swiftly.
Saul pointed out that coronavirus patients would be easy to identify as the population was sparse.
“Our towns are small and with just over 200 000 people living in the city (Kimberley), patients will be detected as soon as they are infected,” said Saul.
“According to the law, no person with the coronavirus, confirmed or suspected, may refuse medical examination, preventative treatment, isolation or quarantine.”
While outlining the measures that will be taken by provincial government to prevent and reduce the impact of the outbreak of the virus, Saul said yesterday that out of the 17 people who were tested for the virus in the Province, none had tested positive.
Saul said that there were 30 health facilities in the Province assigned to treat coronavirus patients.
“These designated facilities can admit up to 630 persons under investigation for coronavirus. We have identified additional buildings that can be used to accommodate quarantined patients, if needed.
“We are doing our best to ensure that isolation facilities are equipped with the necessary resources, with the assistance of the Department of Health.”
He added that 500 contact tracers would track down anyone who came into contact with a known coronavirus patient.
“Contact tracers will work closely with the police to enforce the regulations on the examination, treatment and quarantining of people. Even patients living in deep rural areas will be identified, tested and treated as soon as possible.”
He added that the Department of Health had established a multi-sectoral provincial and five district outbreak response teams.
“In addition to this, we have an emergency operations centre to support our districts and health facilities, situated at the James Exum building in Kimberley. ”
Saul stated that access to all care facilities would be strictly monitored.
“All protocols will be in place to ensure hygiene and non-contamination of food and surfaces.
“We are fast-tracking the procurement of additional personal protective equipment as well as ventilators and respirators to assist critical patients. Training programmes are being provided to health workers and support staff in health facilities.”
He added that all provincial government departments would conduct risk assessments to identify the risk of an outbreak and revise existing health and safety provisions.
“Departmental steering committees have been established to develop guidelines, action plans and protocols to manage any confirmed cases of coronavirus.
“Old age homes and community-based care facilities will remain open, while ensuring that they adhere to all hygiene protocols.
“The Department of Social Development will continue to provide psycho-social and other services required. Staff are provided with the hygiene and protective material and services.”
He said all non-essential domestic travel was being limited.
Saul stated that the June and September school holidays would be shortened to compensate for the lost days over the Easter break.
“All schools and early childhood development centres will reopen on April 14, unless determined differently. Most pupils were issued with work assignments to be completed at home under the supervision of their parents.
“Our district offices will ensure that each school has a practical and comprehensive catch-up plan.
“Schools should issue food parcels to vulnerable pupils, through the additional National School Nutrition Programme.”
He indicated that all soup kitchens would be closed from March 18 to 25 to allow for the procurement of protective items. “During this time take-away food and non-seated feeding will be provided.”
Saul added that a one-metre sitting distance would apply at all social grant pay points.
He said that hot spots were being identified in informal settlements that would be provided with water tanks and additional stand pipes.
“In containing the spread of the virus, the Department of Water and Sanitation is currently procuring 265 storage tanks, 12 water trucks, 5 000 sanitisers, 5 000 bottles of bleaching agent and 5 000 bars of soap that will be distributed to high-density informal areas in the Province.”
Saul stated that national Cabinet was finalising fiscal and support interventions to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, production, viability of businesses and job losses.
“The declaration of a national state of disaster sets the legal framework to release available resources of the national government such as equipment, vehicles and facilities.”
He urged farmers to provide hand sanitation products, clean water and safe accommodation and working conditions to their employees.
Saul encouraged members of the public to drop off hygiene products and non-perishable foodstuffs at municipalities for distribution to the needy and vulnerable members of society.
“We urge the people of the Northern Cape not to bulk buy and hoard but to display selflessness and humanity for the common good.”
A free hotline number
08000 299 99 or WhatsApp line 0600 123 456 has been set up for anyone experiencing symptoms.
Meanwhile, the acting Nehawu provincial secretary, Steffen Cornelius, expressed concern yesterday over the ability of the Department of Health to manage the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital, other identified hospitals and clinics across the Province do not have the necessary resources. Isolation wards need to adhere to strict prerequisites,” Cornelius said.
He pointed out that the health facilities identified by the department were understaffed and were not fully equipped to deal with a virus of this magnitude.
“Currently, there is no protective clothing and this will put our members at risk. We are yet to hear about any comprehensive plan that is in place should we experience an outbreak. Thus we call upon the premier to convene a stakeholders meetings in order to direct national and provincial departments to provide training or workshops on how to screen, test, quarantine and treat the virus.”