South Africa

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #86: Hard lockdown a ‘possibility’, Blitzboks denied World Sevens Series win and Khoisan protesters keep up sit-in despite lockdown

The town rugby field in Warden, Free State, is deserted during the national Covid-19 lockdown. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 30 June at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, the Free State and Mpumalanga did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

The surge is coming and people need to be extra-cautious, warned Health Minister Zweli Mkhize during an interview on 702. He said a hard lockdown would remain a “possibility”.

“When we had the first lockdown, it was not because it would be the last time we do it. It may be necessary and when the time comes we will talk about it.” He urged people to remember that everyone needs to work together to handle the pandemic.

Mkhize has confirmed the Eastern Cape Department of Health has suspended its use of the courier company which was responsible for transporting Covid-19 test samples found along the N2. He said the company could face criminal charges and the department would launch its own investigation into what happened.

A multi-sectoral Ministerial Advisory Committee on Social Behavioural Change will be set-up by government to tackle “fatigue” and encourage people to adhere to “non-pharmaceutical interventions” to stop the spread of Covid-19, according to Mkhize. 

He warned that Gauteng will become the new Covid-19 epicentre in “coming days” because of migration inland as people returned to work there. The province needs to increase hospital beds immediately and will receive government support, he added.

A chart made by the Covid-19 Dashboard team to illustrate the daily change in confirmed Covid-19 cases in five districts of Gauteng over time. (Chart: Wits University and iThemba Labs)

About the Eastern Cape, Mkhize said that the entire health system needed to be strengthened. Senior managers will be sent to the province to “overall health systems management”.

A chart made by the Covid-19 Dashboard team to illustrate the change in cumulative cases, recoveries, deaths and active cases in the Eastern Cape over time. (Chart: Wits University and iThemba Labs)

All provinces will soon see an increase in cases, Mkhize said. The country’s mortality rate remains at between 1.8% and 2.1%.

He noted with “extreme concern” that people were not cleaning their hands frequently, wearing masks properly and adhering to physical distancing guidelines. As Marianne Thamm writes, he pleaded that people adhere to the rules to save lives as the country heads into the peak of the Covid-19 storm.

Meanwhile, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane gave an update on the state of the province’s Covid-19 response. He announced a recruitment drive for healthcare workers and the construction of new health facilities throughout the province.

The World Sevens Series was cancelled on Tuesday because of the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant both the women’s and men’s New Zealand teams were declared champions of the series. As Craig Ray writes, this means the battle between the Blitzboks and New Zealand will remain unresolved – they were just 11 points behind New Zealand and still had a realistic chance of winning the title. 

A number of civil society organisations are teaming up with government to set up a mapping system of relief packages. It would register which areas had not yet received packages and what the needs were. As Karabo Mafolo reports, they hope the tool will foster more co-operation and co-ordination. 

The Cape Town deeds office has closed again after being open for just over a month. The office was closed on 26 June after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19. However, it has not reopened and cannot disclose when it will. As Chanel Retief reports, a staff member expressed concern that the office seems not to be reporting directly to the Department of Health as it should.

Since 2018, King Khoisan and six others have been camped outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria awaiting a response from President Cyril Ramaphosa to their demands for recognition. King Khoisan told photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed that he used to share their story and cause with visitors to the buildings.

However, since lockdown, these visitors have stayed away and donations have dried up. Their vegetable gardens have been killed by frost and they have resorted to hunting pigeons, but they remain adamant about remaining until their demands are dealt with. DM

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