SA big businesses donates pills and sanitising alcohol for free to fight virus
CAPE TOWN - Life saving pills and litres of sanitising alcohol are just some of the measures that big businesses contributed for free yesterday as part of their responsibility to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Austell Pharmaceuticals said it would donate 500 000 Chloroquine Phosphate tablets for use by the Department of Health (DOH).
There is a growing body of evidence that Chloroquine Phosphate can reduce the number of days Covid-19 patients spend in hospital, and the amount of time patients remain infectious, a statement said.
On the March 19, South Africa adopted Chloroquine Phosphate in its guidelines for the clinical management of Covid-19, published by the Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
China, Belgium and South Korea have also adopted Chloroquine Phosphate in their Covid-19 treatment guidelines, while the drug has also been recommended for use in France, Australia and the US.
Austell Pharmaceuticals, South Africa’s largest black-owned pharmaceutical company, said that by reducing the time that patients remain in hospital, Chloroquine Phosphate could help reduce pressure on the healthcare system, allowing more people to access the healthcare services they need.
Meanwhile, KFC, which closed all its restaurants from yesterday to support the lockdown, said however that it will continue its feeding programme to children who often get their only meal at school, while additional food parcels would be given to the children’s families who were in need due to the economic downturn and illness.
Distell, Africa’s leading producer and marketer of spirits, fine wines and ciders said it will begin producing hand sanitisers and other hygienic products at its production facilities to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
MD Richard Rushdon said they had committed 100 000 litres of alcohol to produce sanitisers, as well as a variety of other hygienic and sanitising products.
The sanitisers will be distributed free, with the company working closely with the government to identify particularly vulnerable communities. He said there is an acute shortage of pure alcohol to produce hand and surface sanitisers, which are desperately needed in hospitals and households.
“This pandemic is perhaps the greatest challenge our country has faced since democracy and calls on business, the private sector and communities to work together to overcome the virus,” he said.
The Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) said banks had been declared an essential service during the lockdown, and all essential banking services would remain open. All call centres, ATMs and point of sale (POS) devices would be operational.
Saswitch penalty fees would be waived, so customers could use any ATM and only pay the usual fees charged by their bank. Customers would be notified once this comes into operation.
Basa encouraged customers to transact at ATMs and from their homes – by internet and with smartphone applications - wherever possible, and only visit branches when absolutely necessary. Branches may have less staff than usual.