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Testing and tracing to intensify as Covid-19 hits townships

… and Ramaphosa gives a nod to the billionaires.
The president says the country is entering a ‘new phase’ in the fight against the virus. Image: Elmond Jiyane, GCIS

The government will intensify its testing and tracing efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19 as the number of infections continues to rise, with confirmed cases sitting at 1 326 and the number of deaths has risen to three.

Speaking to the nation on the fourth day of the nationwide lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country would be entering a “new phase” in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic where the state will roll out a large-scale screening, testing and tracing, and medical management programme around the country. 

The programme will see around 10 000 fieldworkers visit homes in cities, towns and villages to screen residents for Covid-19 symptoms. 

“This drive is far-reaching, it is intensive and it is unprecedented in scale,” said Ramaphosa.

People who are found to show symptoms of the virus will be sent to local and mobile clinics for testing, and those who are found to be positive will be instructed to self-quarantine at home or an identified location, or be transferred to a hospital facility depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Ramaphosa said mobile technology will be used to implement an “extensive tracing system” to find the contacts of the confirmed Covid-19 cases so that the geographical location of new cases can be monitored in real-time. 

With 17 out of 21 days left to the lockdown, Ramaphosa said the virus, which exactly a week ago had been confined to urban areas, has now been confirmed in two townships – Khayelitsha in the Western Cape and Alexandra in Gauteng – where crowded living conditions and a lack of water and sanitation are a key concern in containing the spread of infection.


On the economic front, South Africa was finally knocked down to below investment grade by rating agency Moody’s – a move that will see the country fall into a deep recession. 

Ramaphosa said that while the downgrade will increase the government’s cost of borrowing and negatively impact the economy this would not “diminish in any way our response to the coronavirus pandemic”.

“We are pushing ahead to implement the necessary health interventions and economic and social measures to contain the spread of the disease and alleviate its effects on our people,” Ramaphosa assured the country.

Read: SA’s response to Covid-19 should be war-like

In a nod to the billionaires, Ramaphosa also revealed that technology company Naspers had donated R1.5 billion towards the fight against the virus, while thanking the Motsepe Foundation for donating R1 billion over the weekend. This comes after the Rupert and Oppenheimer families previously donated R1 billion each.

The founder of Alibaba has also donated medical supplies to countries across the continent, including South Africa. 

In its reasoning, Moody’s cited the country’s weakening fiscal position, rigid labour environment, weak growth and an inability to implement reforms to stabilise electricity supply as being responsible for the downgrade

These factors would only be inflamed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 740 000 people, killed over 35 000 others, and crippled health systems all over the world.

Ramaphosa said despite these challenges government is “committed to implementing structural economic reforms to address weak economic growth, constrained public finances and struggling state-owned enterprises”.

Stay at home 

He urged South Africans who are not essential service providers to remain in their homes and abide by the regulations over the next 17 days, leaving only to get food and essential provisions, collect a social grant, buy medicine or get medical care.

He warned that the virus “poses a great danger to every one of us and to our society” irrespective of class or creed.

“Let us not make the mistake of thinking this is somebody else’s problem.”




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I have this sinking feeling that the government have no idea how many Corona cases we have. Not that one can blame them really. Our testing resources are not coping it seems and perhaps people are not reporting to be tested?

It’s nice for you to be pleasant when you can Chris! It’s not difficult to be a pleasant and a positive person. Positivity inspires others. Negativity and Sarcasm does nothing for nobody.

We are under attack by an enemy we can not see. We must work together! Inspire your people.

…says Dadape who recently hoped a commentator AlapThando here would get the virus

Look at the bar chart on Wiki regarding cases and daily increases for SA. Something is seriously wrong with the daily increases since 27 Mar.

Yes. ‘They’ either can’t count, or they are hiding the truth as not to spread panic. I guess we have about three thousand four hundred and eleventy positives by now.

Probably cause it was weekend and the labs weren’t fully open to be able to process all tests? Last weekend was the same.

Why can you be so reflective, thoughtful and constructive like your comment above and other times just be a chop. No one can disagree with you that the current reported number of Covid-19 cases are woefully short of the actual infections. I fear the imminent wildfire of infections in the concentrated informal settlements. The government does not have capacity – we know for all of the reasons we have thrashed out so many times before including rampant corruption and incompetence.

Whatever the reasons, our opportunity is to be positive in our local communities to do whatever we can do to help and protect the poor and vulnerable, with the emphasis on local. Once again at the risk of scorn from you Ramaphosa is a leader we can admire and follow.

I did a quick sum – if we have a population of 58 million (and yes you should test every man woman and child) and we have 10,000 fieldagents and they work solidly for 8 hours a day and the citizens are in front of these “testers” they would take 37 man days to complete this task. Given that these “testers” would move from community to community the testing period would be considerable extended to allow the “testers” to move from community to community.
Does this government have a clue about anything – if we think Eskom and all other SoE’s are a disaster this exercise is going to be like the sinking of the Titanic with no survivors

They clearly do Graham. You are visibly the idiot in the room. We are under lockdown! Don’t play the fool.

The problem is not with the field agents. The problem is with the labs. The private sector labs cannot do ALL the testing and I doubt it if the government labs can do it. But there is talk of a 10 minute test. But by the time that is available SA will be well on it’s way down the drain, or in the grave.

Unfortunately I have to agree with Graham. But, nobody can stop the virus in the townships, it is just not going to happen. This virus is like a wild fire, it will spread. But, actually, a very low percentage of people die from it. Compared to TB, Aid and other diseases Corona is a joke.

Ironically, pres. CR is badly showing up the ANC with his pointed and decisive leadership on the Corona virus, by showing what the ANC should have done since 94 on the Aids catastrophe.

Pres. Mandela provided no leadership on the AIDS issue, as president. Mbeki first offered denial and then misguided leadership, Zuma set a terrible personal example and pres. CR no leadership either. How many millions of people could have been saved?

End of comments.





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