Call to immediately cancel all mass events as Covid-19 spreads in SA

The Sanac civil society forum calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet to act on Covid-19 in a way that puts South African citizens first.

This as the president is expected to address the country today following a special cabinet meeting.

“Sanac civil society forum is firm that given the health, social and economic impact of Coronavirus, Cabinet must demonstrate political leadership. Political leadership is many things, but at elementary level it is about making choices that may be unpopular in the short-term but hailed as revolutionary with the passage of time. Not acting correctly, the Cabinet led by Cyril Ramaphosa will be remembered as a colossal failure,” said Steve Letsike, Sanac civil society forum’s chairperson, in a statement earlier today.

“We are worried about the impact Covid-19 on people living with HIV and those with TB, especially those who are not on treatment. Whilst we have over 4,9 million people on anti-retroviral treatment (ART), we still have another 2 million not on treatment. We are also dealing with those defaulting on ART. Although we don’t know the interaction between the HIVirus and the Coronavirus, we have every reason to be scared about the results and impact of the interaction between these 2 viruses will have on those who are HIV positive,” Letsike said in the statement.

The forum, calling itself a partner to government, has offered advice to government including closing early learning centres, schools and institutions of higher learning with immediate effect.

The forum also calls on all mass events to be cancelled with immediate effect including but not limited to the Human Rights Day on March 21 and World TB Day on March 24.

“All major religious, sporting, arts and large scale events planned to take place should be cancelled with immediate effect. Flights from all countries with Coronavirus should be cancelled until the pandemic is brought under control.

“Evidence shows that all positive Coronavirus cases are from people who had travelled outside South Africa,” the statement reads.

“Our healthcare system as diagnosed during the 2018 Presidential Health Compact indicates that we have huge challenges. Efforts are underway to fix the healthcare system, but we are not there yet and we therefore cannot afford a calamity that will crush the healthcare system from large number of positive cases of Coronavirus.

“South Africa must measure the opportunity cost of shutdown and in some instances restrictions of economic and social platforms as opposed to doing nothing or hoping that washing of hands is the only solution. Some people are not able afford to wash hands as they do not have clean running water just to drink and washing hands without water is asking for the impossible. Yes, those who have access to clean water to drink and wash their hands should, but the reality is that some South Africans do not enjoy this option.

“We are calling for a radical shift to “social distance” as the only possible measures to assist us to avoid large scale infections. Even with the social distance measures, poverty and inequality will triumph as we still have people living in squalor and conditions that will make a mockery of creating social distance. However it is better to do something in small measure than to do nothing at all.

“Beyond these pronouncements we await, we call on government to put in place a massive public education drive supported by social mobilization using the SANAC structures as the platform for engagement.

“We will judge Cabinet and the President by what will be announced as the decision of the meeting of Cabinet of today, March 15.”

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