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Precautionary measures implemented

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“We are busy revising our schedule for the study camps planned for the school holidays to ensure that it complies with the proclamation of the president”

ROBUST hand washing and sanitising and the postponement of events are some of the measures implemented by various sectors, including the Department of Education, court centres and shopping malls, in Kimberley in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This follows a national call by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who urged South Africans to implement interventions to curb the coronavirus.

Ramaphosa on Sunday evening declared a national state of disaster and announced that schools would be closed from tomorrow and reopen on April 14.

“The June school holidays will be shortened by seven days and September holidays by two days,” Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Lehuman Ntuane said yesterday. “Teachers and departmental officials must continue to be at work during this period. We will provide sanitisers in all our institutions and offices with immediate effect to ensure a hygienic environment at our places of work.”

All scheduled matric dances that were due to take place this term will be postponed. “All matric dances scheduled within the school closure period must be postponed until further notice. The department will make an announcement on Wednesday (tomorrow) on all other technical matters.”

Ntuane said that the department was seeking further advice on study camps for matric pupils and also advised pupils to continue studying while at home.

“We are busy revising our schedule for the study camps planned for the school holidays to ensure that it complies with the proclamation of the president. We will also issue a circular to all schools that will guide and assist them in terms of the way forward.

“We further appeal to all parents to make the necessary arrangements for the supervision of children at home. Pupils must continue using workbooks while schools are closed. The situation we are confronted with provides parents with an opportunity to assist pupils at home with their school work and revision of the first quarter.”

Ntuane advised the public to respect the protocols that have been implemented.

“We call on members of the community to remain on high alert and adhere to the Covid-19 pandemic protocols, chief amongst these being to wash your hands often with soap and water, practice cough hygiene and protect yourself and others from getting sick. We call on communities to remain calm and refrain from spreading fake news concerning the virus.”

The marketing manager of the North Cape, Leon Gray, said they were aware that there would be an influx of people heading to the mall due to the school closure but they have taken the necessary precautions.

“We will be doubling and even tripling up on cleaning the mall. We will also have hand sanitiser in the bathrooms and soap in all our bathrooms. We have also placed posters inside the mall to inform people how they can prevent infection. Staff at the mall will be issued with hand sanitiser and masks to ensure they are also safe during this period. Managers at the various stores have also indicated that they have taken the necessary precautionary measures to ensure their staff and clients are safe,” said Gray.

He added that they had to postpone upcoming entertainment shows as a preventative measure.

“We had to postpone a children’s show, Tjiff en Tjaff, which was supposed to take place this coming weekend to a later date due to the influx of people we were going to have during the show. We are not cancelling it, merely postponing it for now.”

Gray urged people to practise the necessary hygiene measures during this time. “As the mall we can put the hygienic products in place but the onus is on the public to make use of the products to prevent any infection.”

A senior manager at the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court said that they are also on high alert and are adhering to the implementation of precautionary measures.

“We have requested our cleaning staff to ensure that there is soap, hand sanitiser and towels in the bathrooms. We have hand sanitisers in the building but have ordered some more in order to place them at the entrance of the court building as well as in each court room. We have also placed posters inside the building to educate people about the virus and how they can keep themselves safe. We are awaiting further guidelines from the national office on any further preventative measures that should be implemented,” he said.

A notice by the Master of the Northern Cape High Court, which was placed at the entrance of the court, stated that only cases of emergency regarding the burial of a family member or municipal matters pertaining to the disconnection of electricity would be attended to during this period.

The notice stated further that only four people at a time would be allowed to enter and staff would assess members of the public to assess whether they had any flu-related symptoms.

Those with flu symptoms will be denied entry and all other cases will be advised to return at a later stage.

The rank manager of the Indian Centre, Johannes Mogapi, said that although taxi operators are fearful of being infected with the virus they would continue to operate as normal.

“We are scared but what can we do? We have to transport people to their designated areas as many have to get to work and back home. We have had meetings with staff and urged them to practise precautionary hygiene measures to prevent them from getting infected by passengers,” said Mogapi.

“Our concern is the queue marshals who have to upload and download the luggage of passengers. We need to get hand sanitisers and masks for them. We have also told the drivers that they have to equip themselves with sanitisers and masks when making trips. We can however not stop transporting people as the majority of people rely on public transport.

“This is a terrible situation but we will continue until we have been told otherwise. For now, our drivers and passengers need to pay extra attention to their health and hygiene.”

The Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, said that random testing measures will be implemented in the public transport environment.

“We will implement an aggressive information drive to create awareness and promote preventative measures. Taxi and bus operators must become ambassadors whose task is to disseminate information. The Department of Transport will engage the leadership of the taxi and bus industries to mount an aggressive information drive working closely with the Department of Health on preventative measures in the public transport environment. Random testing measures will be implemented in the public transport environment, with particular emphasis on commuter rail,” said Mbalula.

The marketing manager of the Diamond Pavilion Mall, Philadelphia Babi, said they would comment at a later stage.