REMARKS BY KZN PREMIER HON. MR SIHLE ZIKALALA, ON THE OCCASION OF A MEDIA BRIEFING ON COVID – 19, 23 MAY 2020
HONOURABLE MEC FOR HEALTH - MS NOMAGUGU SIMELANE-ZULU
HONOURABLE MEC FOR EDUCATION – MR KWAZI MSHENGU
MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
We once again extend a warm welcome to you to this media briefing, which takes place on the eve of Africa Day, which is being observed throughout the continent tomorrow, 25 May 2020. Today we are joined by the MEC for Health as well as the MEC for Education.
Africa Day is intended to celebrate and acknowledge the successes of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU now the African Union), which was created in May 25, 1963. As many of us are aware, this organisation has done a lot to fight colonialism and apartheid, as well as to champion the political and socio-economic progress that Africa has made – although challenges remain.
We will celebrate Africa Day as the Continent of Africa like the rest of the world faces this Covid-19 pandemic. Africa to date has over 95,000 cases of the virus and 2,995 deaths resulting from it. We pay tribute to African scientists and doctors at the AU’s African Centre for Disease Control and their global partners for their hard work in search of a cure for this new pandemic. We also address ourselves to the millions of health workers, the security personnel, essential services and public servants who dare to confront this danger on our behalf. These are the Madibas, the Lumumbas, the Chris Hanis, the Ruth First and Fatima Meers of today who set aside threats to their own lives to become foot soldiers in this war without a clear beginning, and no visible end in sight. In a post Covid-19 world, Africa must ensure that by 2030, we attain the United Nation’s SDG goal of universal health coverage and Africa must rise again.
CONFIRMED COVID – 19 CASES – PROVINCIAL PICTURE AT A GLANCE.
Currently, South Africa has had 21 343 cases of COVID –19. A total of 407 deaths, and 10 104 recoveries.
When we engaged seven days are we reported our numbers at 1147. Today the number of confirmed positive cases are standing at 1777. Deaths are at 49 from 46 last week and recoveries are at 1168 from 806 we reported last Sunday. Of these KZN cases 1144 are in EThekwini district.
While ILembe district has fewer numbers of COVID-19 cases, however, when calculating according to numbers per population they are higher than EThekwini. ILembe stands at 53,5 per 100 000 compared to the 30.0 per 100 000 of EThekwini. This makes ILembe to be the second most concerning hotspot in the province of KwaZulu Natal.
WHAT ARE THESE FIGURES TELLING US?
The Province is currently sitting at 10% and remains the 4th highest Province in the Country.
On a daily basis the province now reports an average of 20 new cases which is a slight decline from 43 to 45 we used to experience.
EThekwini Metro is still contributing the bulk of the new cases at 58%,
In iLembe District alone we currently have over 380 cases.
We note that a total of six Districts in our province have to date reported no positive cases in the last 24 hours.
BREAKDOWN PER DISTRICT
Table 1: Distribution New cases, n (%) Total cases, n (%) Total deaths Case fatality rate (%)
EThekwini 27 (69.2) 1144 (64.6) 41 3.6
ILembe 8 (20.5) 384 (21.7) 1 0.3
UMgungundlovu 1 (2.6) 80 (4.4) 0 0.0
UThukela 1 (2.6) 39 (2.1) 2 5.1
King Cetshwayo 1 (2.6) 30 (1.7) 3 10.0
UMkhanyakude 0 (0) 26 (1.5) 0 0.0
Ugu 0 (0) 24 (1.3) 2 8.3
Amajuba 1 (2.6) 16 (0.9) 0 0.0
UMzinyathi 0 (0) 6 (0.3) 0 0.0
Zululand 0 (0) 6 (0.3) 0 0.0
Harry Gwala 0 (0) 2 (0.2) 0 0.0
Unallocated 0 (0) 18 (0.9) 0 0.0
Total 39 (100) 1 775 (100) 49 2.8
IN PATIENT MANAGEMENT HOW MANY IN ICU, OXYGEN VENTILATORS
On 23 May 2020 (yesterday) the province had a total of 117 patients admitted in both private (n=70, 60%) and public (n=47, 40%) hospitals.
SCREENING, TESTING AND TRACING
We have to date screened 3,9 million people and we have tested about 80 208. The delay in the laboratory testing and the issuing of the results is also noted and is being dealt with by both the provincial and the national departments of health. We are hoping that soon the results will be produced fast enough for the teams to make decisions on all the tested people.
BEDS AVAILABILITY AND PPE
We remain pleased with the capacity that has been created by the KZN Department of Health in dealing with COVID – 19. Within a few short months, the province has prepared 1870 beds for isolation; 5164 for quarantine; 143 for ICU, and 84 for high care. Based on the current patient load we have adequate stock in all our facilities.
APPROACH TO CHRONIC ILLNESSES LIKE HIV/AIDS
While we continue grappling with COVID – 19, we are still confronted with a burden of disease, which is made up of Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, road crashes, incidents of trauma and injury, as well as Non-Communicable Diseases. It is very important that we do not lose sight of that. The message has not changed; disease prevention, and early detection of diseases is key. We also appeal to people who suffer from chronic diseases, such as the ones I’ve mentioned, to go to Health Care facilities and get their medication. We have created a dispensation that focuses on COVID-19 without compromising on other critical support required by patients taking chronic medication.
PLAN FOR THE RE-OPENING OF THE SCHOOLS
The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, announced that schools will be re-opening on the 1st of June 2020. Since then as the Province we have been working very hard to ensure that we conduct our preparations and state of readiness in line with the National Government pronouncements. We have made good progress in a number of areas
We have complied with all the non-negotiables as agreed between the Minister and stakeholders within the education sector.
We want to state it upfront that the PPEs and essentials for all teachers have been delivered to districts and circuits. Most schools have received their allocations.
These key essentials are part of the agreed pre-conditions for the re-opening of schools. They include the provision of clean and hygiene material (three masks per learner, three masks per teacher, visors for teachers to enhance audibility of teachers) education and awareness, infrastructure, water and sanitation, nutrition and hygiene. We will cover these in detail as we proceed with the statement.
LEARNERS AND STAFF
KwaZulu-Natal is currently the biggest education system of all provinces in the country. We have the highest number of grade 12 compared to any province and highest number of learners across all grades.
Tomorrow, as the teachers and staff returns we expect a total of 90057 teachers and support staff.
Grade 12 and 7 leaners we expect 357 846
Grade 12 = 151000
Grade 7 = 210 190
Screeners = 10 000 Community Care Givers (CCGs)
CLEANING OF SCHOOLS
In KZN over 6000 schools will be opened in this phase. Most of our schools have since been decontaminated. The cleaning and disinfection is being coordinated through districts. Classroom cleanliness will be done twice a day in the morning and afternoon.
ADDITIONAL CAPACITY FOR CLEANING
The cleaning of schools started on 15 May 2020. The first round of cleaning was done by the Department of Public Works and the Department of Agriculture. In addition, the Department of Education issued a circular to all principals and School Governing Bodies to hire Co-Operatives through the School Governing Bodies. A comprehensive assessment for grass cutting and cleaning of schools was completed on 17 May 2020. Districts were given a green light to appoint the local people to cut the grass and remove other encroaching bushes in schools.
PERONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPEs)
All learners, staff and support teams will be provided with Personal Protective Equipment. To this end, sufficient quantities have been delivered to districts and circuit offices including some of the schools.
THE ROLE OF SGBS AND PRINCIPALS IN ENSURING THAT SCHOOL ARE CLEANED
In ensuring that schools are thoroughly cleaned before they reopen, the department issues Circular 20 of 2020 principals of schools are School Governing Bodies (SGBs) were directed to source the services of co-operatives for a three months period for the purpose of cleaning.
SCHOOLS AFFECTED BY VANDALISM
In KZN we have a total of 463 schools that were vandalised during the lockdown and 4 of them were burnt down. The plan that has been put in place includes procuring a total of 6 mobile classrooms, with 4 in uThukela District and 2 in Harry Gwala District. This is after a thorough assessment which indicated that in these two districts mobiles would needed following the damage made by the fire.
SCHOOL ACCESS CONTROL
We have put in place a plan to ensure safe school access control with one entry and exit points. Only learners wearing masks will be allowed. Sanitisation of learners and teachers will happen at the gate. The social distance will be coordinated in line with the norm of 1.5M to 2M spacing between each person.
Only learners where screening indicates less risk in temperature will proceed to the classroom. Should a temperature risk be identified, teaches will assist with prepared isolation rooms, advise next of kin and seek medical advice urgently.
TRAINING AND ORIENTATION OF TEACHERS
Training was done by Department of Health at the district level from Monday, 15th May. In addition to this, the Department of Education has developed a booklet that outlines the non-negotiables for teachers, non-teaching staff and learners in schools. It focuses on changes in the school code of conduct, changes in the work ethics of teachers, orientation programmes, disinfection of schools, hand washing, sanitization, screening, parental involvement and other important methods of containing the contagion.
WATER SUPPLY TO SCHOOLS
A total of 4 500 water tanks have been procured and is being delivered to schools. 250 priority schools have received the stock and water tankers are being used to provide water. Water will be available in all schools. Water availability will be checked every day before the next day starts.
All returning learners (grades 7 and 12) will be provided with nutritious meals daily. Food preparation and servicing will be done in line with the safety and hygiene requirements including social distancing, removing masks only when eating and regular washing of hands. There will be no sharing of utensils.
In KZN we have a total of 470 busses, 30 midi busses and 164 mini buss taxes operating in the entire province. All the learner transport operators have been engaged and ready to commence operations on in accordance with all the Covid-19 regulations. Chief amongst these is ensuring implementation of social distancing which will have to be strictly ensured at all times. Added to this, we will monitor that transport is disinfected on a regular basis. All learner transport will have detergents such as sanitisers. For now there will be no need for additional busses as only 2 grades will be returning. All busses will be sanitized thoroughly. Learners will also be screened upon boarding the busses.
Social distancing remains key in our endeavours to keep safe. To this end, we have ensured that a distance of at least 1.5 M between persons where possible is maintained at all times. This includes avoiding gathering and contact activities outside of the classroom such as extra mural activities, contact sport, assemblies, hall gatherings and queuing at tuck-shops or for school feeding programme meals.
Having taken a long break that was imposed by the outbreak of the Covid-19, there is going to be trimming of curriculum to make up for the time lost during the break. However, for Grade 12 this will not apply as the certificate for all Grade 12s is internationally recognised. Also worthy of being noted is the fact that the May/June examinations will be moved to final examinations in October.
In KZN we have a total of 220 independent schools amongst which 120 is subsidized by the department. All schools including independent schools have been given a checklist to comply with all the COVID-19 requirements.
TEACHERS AND SCHOOL MANAGEMENT TEAMS – NEW REPORTING DATE
We want to announce that in KwaZulu-Natal, teachers and SMTs will not be expected to report back to school tomorrow as previously announced. This is done in order to ensure that all the schools have been thoroughly cleaned and that the delivery of all essentials especially PPE’s have reached all our schools. We have taken this decision due to the fact that the demand for these essentials far outstrips the supply and as such some schools are not yet in possession of all the equipment. This decision is in the interest of safety of our staff and learners. We will rather be delayed in commencing with the academic programmes that risk the health and safety of our workers.
All our teachers will now report on Thursday 28 May 2020.
We welcome the commitment received from the private sector, especially Bidvest who have committed to clean all 400 schools in KZN within Ethekwini which is the epicentre of the pandemic in KZN. In addition they will be providing sanitizers in all school for ease of access by the learners.
LEVEL 3 STATE OF READINESS
Today we look forward to hearing the President’s Address to the nation. We have spent the past weeks preparing all our sectors from Provincial Government, Local Government, Economic Sector, Social Sector and Justice and Crime prevention sector. We can unequivocally confirm that we are ready for de-escalation to level 3 as KwaZulu-Natal, we will however, hear from the National Coronavirus Command Council for a final verdict and we will abide by that decision.
We call for all sectors of society to play their active role in curbing the spread of this pandemic. Everyone, parents, teachers, organised labour, workers, we are called upon to embrace the new normal life imposed on us by COVID-19. We have no other means then to pass this test. Let us ride the COVID-19 waves together, yes sometimes the storm will rock our ship but united we will weather the storm and find calmer waters, the worst will pass and together we will conquer the high seas.