Western Cape Government update on Coronavirus
The Western Cape Government has been working day and night to contain, prepare for and mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus and Covid-19.
In addition to the steps announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, the Western Cape has implemented a number of measures to ensure the most effective response to the pandemic. Whilst these measures focus on public health and behaviour, we are using a whole of society approach including safeguarding the economy, maintaining transport links and food security.
Physical Distance and Social Solidarity
Premier Alan Winde said: “The most powerful tool we have in fighting this disease right now is our own behavior. We must all take steps to prevent a sudden spike in cases, called ‘flattening the curve’, - it can no longer be ‘business as usual’.”
Wash your hands regularly and often – for 20 seconds, every half an hour
Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your arm, and dispose of dirty tissues in a closed bin straight away
Don’t touch other people and avoid touching surfaces outside of your own home
Don’t touch your own face, unless your hands are clean
Work from home if at all possible – employers, please work with us to achieve this
Cleanse and sanitise workspaces
Keep a distance between yourself and your colleagues
Stay at home as much as possible, most especially if you are sick
I repeat – stay home if you are sick.
Joint Operations Centre and Cabinet Decisions
The Western Cape Joint Operations Centre has created seven work streams focusing on Health; Education and Social; Transport and logistics; Safety and Security; Business, economy and tourism; Communications and Government Continuity.
Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, has been tasked with coordinating these seven streams, which report back to him on a daily basis. Cabinet convenes directly afterwards to receive an update on their work, and to take important decisions required to ensure swift action going forward.
Minister of Local Government and Environmental Affairs, Anton Bredell will meet with all Western Cape mayors today to ensure a coordinated response in municipalities across the province.
As at 10h00 on 18 March 2020, there were 14 new laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Western Cape since the last update (on 16 March) – bringing the total number of cases to 30. This rate of transmission is concerning. As the Premier of this Province, it pains me to implement restrictions on our citizens, especially as they affect the economy and children, but, I am willing to take these steps to keep as many of our citizens COVID-19 free as possible.
Our professional health teams are working around the clock to make sure we stop the spread.
- Cabinet approved the request for the establishment of a Provincial Hotline. The hotline number is 021 928 4102. The aim of the hotline is to provide for extra capacity to support the National Institute for Communicable Diseases hotline.
- Additional Emergency Services Resources were dispatched to support Port Health’s early identification efforts.
- Extra capacity is being added to contact tracing.
- Cabinet resolved that all people arriving back from overseas (regardless of country or nationality) should be advised to isolate themselves for 14 days. 20 000 pamphlets have been dispatched to Cape Town International Airport to ensure this message is received.
- The Minister of Health has met with all the Private Hospital Groups, and it was agreed that the Private Hospital Groups will work collaboratively with the WCG and City Health Services to effectively manage the health care needs of all during this period.
Premier Winde said: “Just like other illnesses, we must not spread fear and panic, and we must not create stigma against residents or visitors. These are lessons that South Africans have already learnt as a country. We must be united during this challenging time. People who are sick need our sympathy and support. Instead of being afraid, be a help: share messages on hygiene, and offer to deliver food, medication and necessities to the doorsteps of those who are ill. We are all in this together."
Added Premier Winde: “I would like to at this time thank our dedicated healthcare staff for all that they are doing during this difficult time. We value you, and all your efforts, every moment of every day.”
“Let’s Stop the Spread”
The number one priority is ensuring that the people in our province are aware and informed about how they can play their part in stopping the spread of the virus.
The Cabinet has approved one of the biggest public awareness drives the Western Cape Government has ever undertaken to ensure residents - in all communities - have access to factual, timely and reliable information on Coronavirus and COVID-19. The focus of this campaign is "Let's Stop the Spread".
This campaign will include:
(a) Radio ads, which have already commenced in English, Afrikaans and IsiXhosa;
(b) Direct text messaging, out-of-home advertising, and mass-pamphlet distribution to reach communities across province;
(c) Social media, and a fake news response strategy
This campaign will be open source: We will give content to anyone looking to use it to help us get the message out to as many people as possible, and call on all businesses to join our efforts.
The Cluster Lead for the Economy met with retailers and shopping centre owners yesterday. Retailers have confirmed that they have enough stock to get through this crisis, and that there is no need for panic buying.
Premier Winde said: “We are urging people to only buy what they need and not to stockpile as this only serves to deprive our most vulnerable residents. We have to act with calm and consideration for others at times like these. The retailers have confirmed that there will be no stock shortages.”
Working with Wesgro, the City of Cape Town and partners, the Government has established the Covid-19 Centre for Business- made up of 24 staff members who will be able to provide virtual advice and support to businesses. This team will focus on three areas:
· Containment: Gathering information from industries to understand their business needs and respond.
· Adaptation: Collating and sharing best practice to help businesses adapt and become resilient.
· Recovery: Identifying actions that need to be taken to drive the economy once the pandemic has been contained- ie. tourism and investment campaigns.
Premier Winde said: “I will be conducting a tour of businesses of all sizes who are going the extra mile to ensure that we give effect to physical distancing and good sanitation. I want to celebrate those businesses that are being innovative, finding new ways to make sure staff are able to work from home, or be able to give effect to physical distancing at the workplace. We will be working on a best practice guide to assist businesses with this.”
Education and Social
The Western Cape Education Department is in regular communication with schools, to ensure that the National Government’s directive to close schools was actioned by the agreed to date (today). The last day for teachers is Friday, as per the National Department of Education.
Cabinet supported the directive to shut ECD’s and after-school programmes. We are concerned about non-registered ECDs that are not on our system. We ask for the media’s support in getting this message out so all ECD’s are made aware of this message in a manner which does not cause alarm or fear for our most vulnerable residents – our children.
The Department of Social Development has received contingency plans from funded NGO partners running old age homes. It is also in contact with old aged homes that are not funded.
Visitation to old age homes will be limited for a period of 30 days and homes will double up on their hygiene/ disinfection routines every day to ensure safety and health of residents. Hygiene and hand sanitation guidelines have been communicated to homes.
The Minister of Transport and Public Works has met with Golden Arrow Bus management and will be meeting with Taxi Associations, to ensure the public transport system is prepared and responsive to the need of good hygiene and physical distancing as far as possible:
- We have been informed that all Golden Arrow buses will be sprayed with disinfectant every 24 hours, and they will clean a bus every time it moves through a terminus, including seats and headrests.
(a) Bus drivers will be given masks and gloves, as they often handle cash.
(b) Minister Madikizela this morning undertook an oversight visit to ensure that these measures are being employed.
- With respect to the MyCITI bus service
(a) The City has implemented signage and posters informing and educating commuters about COVID-19 and personal hygiene.
(b) The City is increasing the frequency of the MyCiTi bus fumigation and cleaning practices – this will apply to the interior and exterior of the buses. The buses will also be wiped down on the inside after both the morning and afternoon peak-hour periods, on a daily basis.
(c) MyCiTi station personnel will seek to limit the number of standing passengers on the bus to half of the standing capacity.
We are undertaking to provide updates daily to the media at a set time, with digital conferences or “Digicons” weekly so that we can answer the questions that you need answered. This briefing is the first of many.
Premier Winde concluded: “We know there is a lot of concern right now. We are working around the clock on developing and updating as many FAQs as possible – please bear with us as we seek answers to some of the more difficult questions being faced by countries around the world. Lots of work is being done, and I am being updated every hour. Sharing information with you is a main priority right now.”
“We ask for the media’s help in getting the message out now: we need to practice physical distancing, with social solidarity. I repeat: Keep a distance from other people as much as possible, and stay home if you are at all sick. We are in this together, as a province, a country and as the human race. Let’s work together to stop the spread.”