This is just one more voice calling on government to reopen the economy further.
Cape Town – Cosatu on Tuesday added its voice to calls for the government to release clearer data on the spread of Covid-19 in the country, to allow for an informed discussion on reopening the economy further.
“We’re getting mixed messages and it’s not helpful,” Cosatu parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said, adding that the trade union federation wanted South Africa to move to level 3 lockdown restrictions as soon as possible but with the utmost caution.
He said the Western Cape’s health crisis, where more than half the nation’s 11 350 cases of infection are located, was a case in point of incomplete information.
“The Western Cape is particularly concerning. Few clear reasons have been given as to why its rates are so high,” Parks said.
Because of a lack of detailed data from provincial health departments across the country, he said, it was not clear if the province was simply testing more than others or whether the unique demographic of the Cape Town metropolitan area was a particularly fertile breeding ground for the virus.
“Is it because Covid-19 has now hit the densely populated Cape Flats with lower levels of immune ratio due to TB or is it because other provinces are not testing at the same levels? Clear answers need to be given by the government.”
Parks added that there was no clear plan on containing the health crisis in the Western Cape and said the national government needed to move with speed to deploy 28 000 community health workers.
Cosatu has for more than a month called for a nuanced approach to confinement measures, arguing that there was no need to keep an area with very few or no infections at the same level of lockdown as another with a high incidence of Covid-19 cases.
But he said simply keeping so-called “hot spots” of infection severely restricted would serve no point without greater steps to curb transmission.
“You can’t simply put an area at a higher level and say good luck to you,” he said.
“Screening and testing need to take place at workplaces, transport interchanges and educational institutions daily, and as a matter of course. The health services need to be reinforced and all health and essential workers provided with the necessary PPEs.”
Parks said the large number of nurses, policemen, supermarket cashiers and prison wardens that had become infected was “an indictment of the shocking failure by their employers to” provide the necessary safety gear.
He said these steps needed to be taken throughout the country, to enable a safe reopening of bigger sections of the economy.
“This must be guided by the need to save lives and minimise infections. There is a risk that infections will increase and the necessary health and safety measures must be put in place to reduce the risk.”
The government is facing pressure from across the political spectrum for greater transparency on both its actual measures to fight the pandemic and the modelling that informs decision-making on restricting economic activity.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office has confirmed that modelling projections were not being disclosed because these were fluid.
The official opposition on Tuesday urged Ramaphosa to address the nation and to release “all Covid-19 data, along with the NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) modelling he is using to justify the continued lockdown”.
The Democratic Alliance has submitted applications under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to force all provinces to release their testing and tracing figures.
African News Agency (ANA)