Coronovirus in SA: Informal settlements may suffer

By Mphathi Nxumalo Time of article published Mar 17, 2020

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Durban - THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health is preparing for a worst-case scenario when dealing with coronavirus cases in informal settlements, Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said, at a media briefing in Durban.

Simelane-Zulu said they were looking at various scenarios and one would be the possibility of removing a group of 500 people from informal settlements should there be an outbreak. “I must say it’s going to be a difficult task,” she said.

The department was working with the Human Settlements and Public Works Departments to see where they could take people if the need arose.

The Health MEC was speaking after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on Sunday evening, which banned South Africans from travelling to countries such as Italy, China, South Korea and the UK.

She said the lockdown would last for 30 days. Then the Cabinet would decide on whether to extend it.

Yesterday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said there were 62 cases where people tested positive for the virus. The top three provinces were Gauteng (31 cases), the Western Cape (16) and KwaZulu-Natal with 12 cases.

Simelane-Zulu said they had trained all government hospital staff on the virus. The MEC said a “buddy system” where staff would go into an isolation ward together, would help them to check up on each other.

Speaking about the first group of people, from KZN, who returned from Italy with the virus, she said: “We are just waiting for them to recover entirely, but we will continue to test them on a daily basis Until the virus is out of their system we cannot let them out.”

Simelane-Zulu said the department had the right to go to court and compel people to go into quarantine.

S’bu Zikode, shack dwellers movement Abahlali baseMjondolo president, said he welcomed Ramaphosa’s decisions. However, he said: “We live a life that is cramped. They say we should wash our hands but we do not even have water.”

Zikode hoped the situation would lead to the government providing more taps to the community.

Meanwhile, Mangosuthu University of Technology said yesterday that it would be suspending classes. It has also postponed its graduation ceremony.

Vice-chancellor Dr Enoch Nzama said the institution’s senate had decided on the following:

* Contact teaching and learning classes will be suspended.

* Other academic activities will continue (including student support services).

* Where possible lectures will go online.

* Access to the library will be limited.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal also cancelled its graduation ceremonies and academic programme.

Daily News

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