CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #68

Most schools ready to reopen, ventilators arrive at a Soweto hospital — and a #BlackLivesMatter protest

By Christi Nortier 8 June 2020

Learners at Waldorf Imhoff school in Cape Town before Covid-19. Most learners are set to return to schools across SA on Monday 8 June. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)

At the weekend, it was announced that most schools were ready to reopen and welcome back Grade 7 and Grade 12 learners safely. The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation staged a Black Lives Matter protest in Soweto against what they say is the biggest disease facing South Africa – racism. Also in Soweto, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital received the first batch of many ventilators donated by the US.

Swipe through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 7 June at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Free State did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

Grade 7 and Grade 12 schoolchildren can return to school on Monday 8 June, according to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga during a briefing on Sunday. She said that about 95% of schools are ready to reopen as they have “been ably provided with the Covid-19 imperatives”.

The remaining 5% will remain closed and will be dealt with, while pupils will be accommodated by “temporarily using neighbouring schools, using under-utilised spaces in boarding schools and putting other learners in camps”.

She commended the provincial education department, communities and the private sector for “dramatically improving the national picture” in seven days.

Trade unions and school governing bodies that have been in consultation with the department have apparently supported the reopening – as long as those schools which aren’t ready remain closed.

The department’s director-general, Mathanzima Mweli, gave a detailed presentation on school readiness across the country:

On Sunday, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation held a demonstration at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto against racism and police solidarity. Protesters commemorated the lives of George Floyd, who died at the hands of white police officers in the US, and Collins Khosa who, it is alleged, died at the hands of South African National Defence Force members during lockdown. The foundation said the biggest disease South Africa faces is racism.

On Saturday, the first batch of 1,000 ventilators donated by the US was installed at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. The hospital currently has 200 beds for patients with Covid-19, but expects to add another 500 beds, according to Gauteng Premier David Makhura. DM/MC

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