Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #27

‘Intensified lockdown’ starts in KwaZulu-Natal — and Strandfontein shelter living conditions a reason for concern

‘Intensified lockdown’ starts in KwaZulu-Natal — and Strandfontein shelter living conditions a reason for concern
City of Cape Town law enforcement officers patrol the perimeter during a media tour of the Strandfontein temporary homeless shelter site in Cape Town. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)

Things changed overnight in South Africa on 15 March, and it won’t be the last time it does. Daily Maverick’s Daily Digest will provide the essential bits of information about Covid-19 in South Africa each day. Please do read on to understand these issues more deeply.

Monday marked the first day of an intensified new normal for KwaZulu-Natal residents. On Sunday, premier Sihle Zikalala announced a host of strict measures meant to crack down on those defying lockdown laws. 

Zikalala said that not enough people are self-isolating after they test positive for Covid-19, and therefore it has been decided that anyone who tests positive will be “taken” to government-approved isolation sites for treatment. According to Zikalala, 54% of the province’s current Covid-19 patients are self-isolating. 

In addition, teams from the provincial health department will be accompanied by security as they do door-to-door screening and testing in eThekwini. Roadblocks, vehicle checkpoints and verifying movements at transport hubs will be intensified. Transgressors will be heavily penalised. As Desiree Erasmus writes, “hotspots” in the province will also be locked down for screening and testing.

The US has pledged R158-million to assist South Africa as it responds to the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown. As Peter Fabricius writes, the money will be channelled through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief but will not take away resources from its effort to respond to Aids in South Africa. According to US ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, the amount pledged increases daily.

Meanwhile, a group of 160 economists and policy experts have released a policy document which recommends that government up its current rescue package from an “insufficient” R41-billion to R400-billion. Tania Broughton chatted to them about their proposal.

An infographic explaining what the Institute for Economic Justice argues government needs to spend in specific areas. (Source: IEJ)

The South African Human Rights Commission has visited the sports field in Strandfontein serving as a temporary shelter for homeless people. They found that it is overcrowded, not properly ventilated and poses a health risk. A doctor from Doctors without Borders who forms part of the team said that the living conditions threaten to increase the spread of Covid-19 at the site and they have called for urgent action to be taken to improve living conditions.

As Vincent Cruywagen reports, political tensions have bubbled over as councillors from the ANC and FF+ were denied access to the site for oversight. DM

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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