Covid-19 data: DA to appeal rejection of PAIA bid to get provincial stats from govt

  • The DA is to appeal the rejection of a Promotion of Access to Information Act application to access provincial stats on Covid-19.
  • The party says the application has been rejected on spurious grounds.
  • It says the data is important to understand preparedness for the infection peak and to hold the government accountable.

The DA is expected to launch and internal appeal to get access to a provincial breakdown of Covid-19 statistics from the government, following the rejection of their Promotion of Access to Information Act application.

According to a statement on Sunday, DA MP and the party's health spokesperson, Siviwe Gwarube, said the application sought to access information on Covid-19 modelling the government used to prepare the health system, as well as a breakdown of provincial statistics on infections, recoveries, fatalities and the capacity of each sub-district.

"This request has now been denied on spurious grounds, citing that some of the information is now in the public domain and the rest of the information requested cannot be divulged based on Section 44 of the Act," Gwarube said.

READ | EXCLUSIVE: Just 207 critical care beds and 350 ventilators added to public hospitals during lockdown

The section lays out the conditions under which an application can be denied, including an impact on policy-making and communication.

However, "this is extremely broad", Gwarube said.

"It is for that reason that the DA will launching an internal appeal to compel the department to reveal the provincial breakdown of infections, projected cases, recoveries, fatalities and most importantly, what the health system capacity looks like per sub-district in the province."

INFOGRAPHICS  | The first 90 days of Covid-19: How does SA compare to the world?

Gwarube said the refusal of the application was "concerning" ahead of South Africa's expected Covid-29 peak and that it impacted on the ability to hold the government to account.

"While the outbreak of this pandemic has been unavoidable, the health response to it is the responsibility of government and we need to ensure that this work is being done in order to save lives," Gwarube said.

News24 reported on Sunday that the government managed to procure between zero and 207 extra "critical care" beds for public hospitals since the beginning of the lockdown. The total number of critical care beds in the public sector is around 2 719, the report said.

The report stated that just over 13 000 field hospital beds - meant for moderate cases - and that slightly more than 35 000 quarantine beds were procured and installed across the country.

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