Jun 2020 2nd Edition

SA moves to Alert Level 3

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that South Africa has moved to 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 recently on the developments in South Africa’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the President says 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 disease hotspots. They include the following metros:

  • City of Tshwane
  • City of Johannesburg
  • Ekurhuleni
  • eThekwini
  • Nelson Mandela Bay
  • Buffalo City
  • Cape Town.

Other areas that have been identified as hotspots are the 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 says.

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 says.

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 which started at the beginning of June, involved the return to operation of most sectors of the economy, subject to observance of strict health protocols and social distancing rules.  More public servants have also returned to work 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.

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 says.

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 says.

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, reopened 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 says.

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 says.

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 says.

Expect rise in infections

President Ramaphosa says, in preparation for the expected increase in COVID-19 infections in the country, 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.”

The President says 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 says. – SAnews.gov.za

Tips to follow to avoid being infected by the coronavirus disease.

  • Stay at home as much as you can.
  • Remember to social distance.
  • Wear your face mask.
  • Wash your hands with soap thoroughly. Wash the back of your hands, between the fingers and under the nails. Always wash your hands with soap before you eat and after being out in public.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue paper when you cough and sneeze. Avoid touching your face with dirty hands at all times.
  • Seek medical help if you feel unwell. Typical symptoms of COVID-19 include coughing, runny nose, fever and shortness of breath. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention promptly.

For more information, call the National Institute of Communicable Diseases’ 24-hour hotline at 0800 029 999 or visit www.health.gov.za and www.nicd.ac.za

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