The Democratic Alliance says the government cannot extend the State of Disaster every month. The DA is now set to legally challenge the State of Disaster.

In a speech on Thursday 17 March, DA leader John Steenhuisen said: “All signs are that the government will continue to extend the State of Disaster until it has permanent legislation that can keep the lockdown in place.” He added: “The only state of disaster that the country is in, is the self-imposed one caused by ongoing restrictions which do more harm than good. It is time to focus all our energies on regaining and transcending what has been lost.”

The State of Disaster was extended to 15 April 2022 which would mean that its 25 months since the emergency legislation was first introduced.

Steenhuisen said: “I have today instructed our attorneys to bring an urgent court challenge to Tuesday’s irrational and unreasonable extension of the State of Disaster. But it’s not enough just to end the State of Disaster. The lockdown itself must end. It can’t just become permanent legislation, as the government is trying to do.”

At the same time, the National Department of Health has asked for public comment with regards to health measures to replace the State of Disaster. The government wants public input on how it proposes transitioning out of the Covid-19 regulations, giving the public 29 days in which to comment on new regulations. And, Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla said he believes face masks should outlive the national state of disaster on the coronavirus, and possibly stick around for a long time yet after new draft rules were published this week.

Under those rules, face masks would remain mandatory in 3 broad areas. This includes gathering in an indoor public place, using any form of public transport, and entering public premises.

According to Business Insider, companies would be required to provide face masks to employees.

 

 

The Special Investigating Unit has found that more than 2800 Covid-19 tenders in government were irregularly awarded.

President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the release of the final report of the investigation by the SIU into Covid-19 procurement.

The unit investigated 5,467 contracts with a total value of R14.3 billion.

In a statement, the Office of the Presidency says: “The release of the report follows the President’s authorisation on 23 July 2020 of an investigation by the SIU in terms of Section 4(1)(f) of the Special Investigating Unit and Special Tribunals Act, No 74 of 1996.President Ramaphosa authorised the SIU to probe any allegations relating to the misuse of COVID-19 funds across all spheres of government.The President gave the commitment that if the SIU found evidence that a criminal offence had been committed, it was obliged to refer such evidence to the National Prosecuting Authority.”

Key findings include:

  • The SIU made 224 referrals for disciplinary action against officials in government departments or entities.
  • The SIU made 386 referrals to the National Prosecuting Authority, as well as three referrals for Executive Action.
  • The SIU made 330 referrals for Administrative Action, which includes blacklisting.
  • The rand value of actual cash and assets to be recovered on the basis of the investigation is R551.5 million, while cash and assets recovered to date total R34.2 million.
  • The value of potential loss prevented by the investigation is R114.2 million, while contracts set aside amount to R170.4 million.

Ramaphosa says it’s unacceptable that so many contracts associated with saving lives and protecting livelihoods were irregular, unlawful, or fraudulent.

 

 

The Western Cape has reached another vaccination milestone. Fifty percent of adults in the Western Cape have now been vaccinated with at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Though only halfway – 51,36% or just over 2.5 million adults in the province have ensured they are protected against severe illness.

These vaccination targets are still not near the 70% plus targets that the Western Cape Health Department has set.

Currently in the Western Cape:

  • 511 524 people 60 years and older have been vaccinated – 70.73% of the total population in this age group.
  • 421 613 (61.63%) in the 50-59 group.
  • 807 675 (53.42%) aged 35-49
  • 815 045 (39.61%) in the 18-34 age group
  • 78 716 of those aged 12 – 17 have also taken up their vaccination

In a statement, the Western Cape Health Department said: “With the new Omicron variant rapidly spreading, vaccination is more important than ever before to protect against severe illness and death. We once again appeal to those who have not yet been vaccinated to take up any of the many opportunities we are providing within their communities.”

The Vooma Vaccination Week also continues and the department is hopeful that this initiative will boost vaccinations: “Get vaccinated at the Vooma Vaccination week from 3-10 December before the holidays so that you and your loved ones can be fully protected and have a safe holiday period together and help us prevent severe illness and death ahead of the fourth wave.”

At the same time, there is also an initiative in Atlantis to get more people vaccinated.

A Free MyCiTi shuttle is available until Christmas Eve to vaccinations sites in Atlantis. This service will operate between the Starke bus stop in Charel Uys drive and the Saxonsea Community Hall via the Protea Park, Atlantis MyCiTi station, and Wesfleur area. The Mayco Member for transport Rob Quintas says the shuttle will operate every 20 minutes on weekdays from 7.30 am to 3.10 pm & also at specific times on weekends.

Health officials say there has been a notable increase in Covid-19 cases in children.

This data was presented in a Department of Health briefing on Friday, 03 December. The country is on the brink of a fourth wave of infections after the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. Public Health Specialist at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD),  Dr Wassila Jassat presented this data. Jassat says that an emerging trend right now is the increase in hospitalisations of children under 5.

At the same time, it’s unlikely that children 5 years old and younger will receive the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa anytime soon.

Acting Director-General for the Department of Health, Dr. Nicholas Crisp said that there has been no application from pharmaceutical companies to administer a Covid-19 vaccine to children under 12-years-old. Teenagers in South Africa currently receive one injection of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine as approved by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority.

Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla also announced that there had been a steep rise of cases in the last seven days with the country recording over 11 000 new cases on Thursday 02 December 2021

“It is much steeper than all the other curves we have seen in the last three waves,” said Phaahla. “We can manage this fourth wave. We can manage Omicron. We can in the next manage in a way where government doesn’t have to invoke serious restrictions in the next few days,” said the minister.

And, the majority of new cases on Thursday were recorded in Gauteng, which accounted for 72%, followed by the Western Cape with 6%. KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 5% of new infections; Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West 4% each; and the Free State and the Eastern Cape 2% each. The Northern Cape accounted for 1% of new cases.

At the same time, Gauteng had recorded 8 280 new cases on Thursday, the Western Cape 727 and KwaZulu-Natal 630.

 

The Western Cape Department of Health has updated its restrictions on hospital visitations in line with adjusted Level One lockdown.

The adjusted Level One restrictions were announced at the beginning of the month. Under the adjusted restrictions, visitors and escorts are only allowed at health facilities under special circumstances and will still be screened at the entrance of the facility.

In a statement the Provincial Health Department said: “During the third wave and level 3 restrictions, Western Cape Government Health had to restrict visitation at hospitals to align with regulations and to reduce the number of people in our facilities at a time. However, we firmly believe that being visited by their loved ones is an important part of a patient’s road to recovery. It is also essential to family who are anxious about the wellbeing of their loved one and wants to visit them in hospital. We also understand that it is also reassuring for young patients or the elderly to have an escort present when visiting the emergency room or outpatients’ department.”

The amended visitation guidelines include:
  • Outpatients:
    • One escort is only allowed for paediatric, disabled, vulnerable, or weak patients.
  • Emergency Unit:
    • Paediatric patients – one escort allowed to accompany the patient into the emergency room.
    • Terminal patients – family members allowed to be present, but only one or two family members allowed to be present at a time.
    • Disabled/vulnerable patients – one escort may be allowed depending on the situation. Will be assessed on a case-to-case basis.
    • All other patients: One escort will remain in the waiting room if there is sufficient space.
  • Inpatients (adults):
    • Limited to 30 minutes visitation per visitor.
    • Visiting time slot of 60 minutes per ward per day. Confirm with the hospital what the ward’s visiting hours are before visiting.
    • Terminally ill patients are allowed to be visited by loved ones. Restricted to 30 min per person per day – more people and longer time at the discretion of ward manager.
    • Critically ill patients are allowed one designated visitor once per day.
  • Inpatients (paediatric):
    • One parent/caregiver can be with the patient.
    • Parent/caregiver can alternate with other parents/caregivers, but only one is allowed with the patient at a time.
    • More family members allowed for terminal patients for 30 minutes, one person at a time. More people and longer time slots at the discretion of the ward manager.
  • Neonatal patients:
    • Mother can remain with the patient or regularly visit.
    • Birthing partner or one designated person can visit daily for 30 minutes. Longer visitation at discretion of ward manager.
  • Maternity & labour:
    • COVID-19 positive patients in labour – no birthing partners allowed.
    • COVID-19 negative patients in labour – one birthing partner during active labour if sufficient space and privacy are available.
    • C-section: Birthing partners are not allowed in theatre but can visit mother and baby for 30 minutes in the postnatal ward.
    • Teenagers in labour: A birthing partner will be accommodated at the discretion of the ward manager.
    • Post-natal ward: Birthing partner allowed to visit mother and newborn for 30 minutes per day during visiting period.
  • COVID-19 and PUI patients:
    • No visitors are allowed.
    • Can drop off parcels (toiletries, food, books, etc.)
    • Exceptions will be made for terminally ill patients.

The Department of Health reiterated that all patients and visitors are to maintain safety precautions including wearing a mask over their mouth and nose, maintaining a physical distance and washing or sanitising their hands regularly.