Johannesburg - The Department of Social Development is working with the Department of Health on precautionary measures to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 at service delivery points offering assistance to social welfare beneficiaries, it said on Tuesday.
Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu met the executives of the National Development Agency, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the South African Council for Social Service Professions to formulate preventive measures after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster at the weekend.
South Africa now has 62 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease which is spreading rapidly across the world after being first detected in China last December.
The social development department said preventive measures were essential at delivery points offering services to South Africa's most vulnerable groups including children, youth, women, older persons and people with disabilities.
"Our efforts will be directed at ensuring that we protect the most vulnerable who will continue to require our services at this difficult time," it quoted Zulu as saying during the meeting with executives.
"While we do so, we must take all necessary precautionary measures to protect our staff and our clients, especially at access points in order to contain the spread of this contagious virus and to slow its spread."
The department said the spread of Covid-19 would exacerbate the vulnerability of poor households and was likely to increase the demand for social grants, food relief and psycho-social services for affected individuals and families.
It said Zulu had activated the Disaster Relief Fund, making available R96 million to provide immediate assistance to those needing it.
Sassa is currently also considering staggering the payment dates for monthly social grants to avoid large numbers of people congregating at South African Post Office outlets for the payouts.
Social service professionals will provide psycho-social care and support services to affected individuals and families, including trauma counselling, integration and re-unification of people who have been isolated or quarantined in relation to Covid-19, to mitigate their stigmatisation.
The social development department is also suspending external visits to child and youth care, drug rehabilitation and treatment centres, shelters and old age centres to curb the spread of coronavirus infection.