CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #97

Nasrec Field Hospital receives donated oxygen concentrators, while teachers’ union calls for schools to close during peak

By Christi Nortier 15 July 2020

A general ward of quarantine beds at the Nasrec Field Hospital. With isolation units, consultation areas, ICU capabilities, medical facilities, power points, drainage and ablutions the hospital has a total bed capacity of 2,300. (Photo: Dino Lloyd / Gallo Images)

On Tuesday, volunteers at Nasrec Field Hospital received 70 oxygen concentrators after putting out an urgent public appeal last week. Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers Union has called for all schools to be closed during the country’s Covid-19 peak. Despite the pandemic, local elections are due to go ahead in 2021.

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 14 July at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, Free State and Eastern Cape did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

A group of volunteers at the Nasrec Field Hospital put out an urgent public appeal last Friday for people to lend them their oxygen concentrators or to donate towards the rental of these machines. By Saturday, they had 70 of these machines. They say there has been an “amazing response” from the public and readers of Maverick Citizen and Daily Maverick.

They spent the weekend training volunteer staff and welcomed their first five patients on Monday. Now that the small high-care unit is up and running, they want to add more beds with oxygen concentrators to lessen the burden on the province’s overwhelmed public hospitals. As Estelle Ellis writes, the group says they still need more clinical volunteers.

The government is considering introducing a Basic Income Grant once the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant is discontinued in October, according to Social Development Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Monday. She said it would be an income support grant for unemployed people between the age of 18 and 59. Sandisiwe Shoba unpacks the long-standing discussion about the necessity of this type of grant in South Africa.

 

 

Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers Union has written to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to urge her to close schools until the Covid-19 peak is over. It expects to meet with her and present its plan of what should be done while schools are closed. It argues that there is no effective teaching and learning happening at the moment and that this time could be better used to think of more effective ways to run schools and protect learners and teachers.

The Water Research Commission and the SA Local Government Association are in the process of setting up a national surveillance programme to monitor the presence of Covid-19 in wastewater. A pilot project in Gauteng hotspots has found traces of the virus. They hope the data will act as an early-warning system to pick up on hotspots and waves of transmission before symptoms or tests show it.

Plans are in place for the next local government elections despite Covid-19. The elections can happen as early as August 2021 but no later than November 2021, according to the Electoral Commission of South Africa during a briefing to Parliament. The procurement of supplies for voter registration and voting is scheduled to take place this year and may include “health-related materials”. The commission said the pandemic has delayed the process of deciding ward boundaries and that the Electoral Act also needs to be amended before then. DM/MC.

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