DA calls for parliamentary debate of national importance on coronavirus

2020-02-02 19:20
Passengers on a flight from Asia wear face masks to protect against the spread of the Coronavirus. (Mark Ralston/AFP)

Passengers on a flight from Asia wear face masks to protect against the spread of the Coronavirus. (Mark Ralston/AFP)

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The DA has called for a parliamentary debate of national importance on the coronavirus and other pandemics.

The party said a debate in terms of Section 130 (1-8) of the National Assembly rules will allow Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to inform the nation of government's readiness for the pandemic.

"It is crucial that the executive tables in parliament an inter-ministerial strategy. The coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the world, having started in China, with cases now being recorded in over 18 other countries," DA health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said in a statement on Sunday.

The political party was of the view that South Africa had deep cause for concern.

Gwarube said, in addition, Botswana's first suspected case of the coronavirus indicated that the virus is at the country's border.

READ: Coronavirus: Botswana registers its first suspected case

The DA believed it was important that Mkhize and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor work together to deal with the issue.

"It is now clear that the emergency protocols we have put in place may not be enough to prevent the virus from entering our borders, and that stricter measures need to be put in place at all our ports of entry nationwide," Gwarube said.

"It is now also critical that all airports and other major transport hubs be prepared for the spread of this virus. We cannot be too cautious on this matter, as millions of citizens' lives may be in danger."

In a briefing on Friday morning, the health minister said there were no reported cases of the coronavirus in the country but that the department was ready.

"I want to assure South Africans that to date there is no confirmed case of the coronavirus in South Africa. If there was any, we would have been able to confirm a diagnosis as we have the facilities to do so."

ALSO READ: No coronavirus case reported in SA but we are ready – health minister

The DA further said its call for a debate of national importance is "not an alarmist tool", but a way in which to ensure that Parliament is at the centre of finding solutions.

"As South Africa becomes a more global country, we need to have solid strategies to deal with such pandemics - not solely due to the current coronavirus outbreak," Gwarube said.

"The DA will be requesting that this debate be scheduled as soon as possible, as it is essential that we ensure the safety and good health of all our citizens." 

Read more on:    da  |  coronavirus
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