Coronavirus in SA: 'Mass screenings a waste of resources' - Gauteng govt

2020-03-18 17:15
An employee of a South African company specialised in sanitisation wears a full protective suit while at the Wanderers taxi rank in Johannesburg. (Michele Spatari / AFP)

An employee of a South African company specialised in sanitisation wears a full protective suit while at the Wanderers taxi rank in Johannesburg. (Michele Spatari / AFP)

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The Gauteng government is of the view that mass screenings are a waste of resources, and public facilities will stick to the said rules when dealing with suspected cases of Covid-19.

"Mass screening does not make sense in terms of resources and getting what you need. We still have to stick to the basic rule of screening, which means you should have direct contact or travel history.

"A man with nausea and vomiting does not need to seek a pregnancy test – we need to be logical about this," said Health MEC Bandile Masuku at a briefing in Midrand on Wednesday.

READ | Coronavirus: South Africa faces critical shortage of test kits as pressure on labs mount

The MEC maintained that, despite contradicting reports, that there would be random screenings at the taxi ranks and railways, the department says it will be sticking to the rules of direct contact or travel history to high risk areas.

Premier David Makhura, along with members of the executive council in the province, briefed the media on the plan by the province to curb the spread.

"Gauteng is the most vulnerable province. We are a port of entry and our province has the highest population in the country," Makhura explained.

On Wednesday, it was announced that South Africa now has 116 confirmed cases. Gauteng has the highest number of infections with 61. 

Some of the measures outlined by the provincial government, among others, include:

  • Vulnerable members of the public, such as the elderly, will be vaccinated.
  • Members of the public will have to apply for gatherings, like funerals and weddings, at their local police station for monitoring purposes.
  • Members of the public will have to adhere to the 100-person restriction as directed by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday.
  • Law enforcement will be used to ensure compliance.
  • 249 tracers, which will be made up of 9 000 community health workers, are currently being trained to monitor families in self-quarantine.
  • The Department of Health is in consultation with a private hospital group to procure 250 beds for quarantine.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa announced there would be extensive measures put in place to contain the virus, such as a ban on travel from the following high risk countries: Italy, Iraq, South Korea, Spain, Germany, United States, United Kingdom and China; the closing of 35 land ports of entry, as well as two of the country's eight seaports; a ban on gatherings of 100 people or more; introduction of tracking, tracing and monitoring systems; and the consideration of a fiscal relief package to minimise damage to the economy.

READ | Coronavirus in SA: Ramaphosa declares national 'state of disaster', imposes travel bans

Makhura also addressed the announcement by the mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni, Mzwandile Masina, that the city would be buying Interferon B from Cuba, which has been used to treat viruses. 

"I want to discourage the idea that a municipality can do its own thing. We are guided by science and the national response. Let's strengthen the national response, we are working under the guidance of the national team," said Makhura.

Read more on:    david makhura  |  johannesburg  |  coronavirus
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