An update from the frontlines in South Africa from Country Director, Tony Diesel.
The first confirmed case of the coronavirus in South Africa was announced on the 5th of March. On 15 March, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a National State of Disaster and a week later issued a national lockdown to last 21 days, from 26 March to 16 April 2020.
With that, South Africans joined the hundreds of millions of people around the globe that are self-isolating to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is one of the most challenging times our country has faced, but we know that we will get through this if we all do our bit, abide by the law and stay in our homes.
The message that has been spread in country to help people from getting the virus, or spreading it, is to:
· Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
· Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or flexed elbow when you cough or sneeze.
· Avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Stay at least 1.5 metres apart.
· Stay home and self-isolate from others in the household if you feel unwell.
· Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean.
With the outbreak and the lockdown, most of our routines have been thrown into disarray. We are not sure if they will be back to “normal” after the 16th of April or not, but we are doing a number of activities to keep up our support of our beneficiaries (the Department of Correctional Services and the public of South Africa).
The SA Partners team based in the country has set up a network of online communication measures, and a core oversight team. The oversight team is made up of the Country Director, Deputy Country Director, Programmes Director and Finance and Administration Director. The team meets online twice a week to discuss planning and possible activities that the “on the ground” teams in the 9 Provinces can do to maintain the momentum of our current, prisons based, STEPS 3 programme. Difficulties are ironed out and information shared. This is then passed through the communication channel to the various teams in the provinces through the Regional Coordinators so that they can instruct the teams in the field.
CDC’s and PEPFAR’s South Africa offices have weekly calls with the organisations they support (including SA Partners). There are often over 160 individuals on the calls all sharing experiences and ideas to work and deliver the care we intend to give the public in South Africa.
South Africa Stats as at 10h00 today (9th April 2020)
“Health minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the number of novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, infections rose to 1,845 in South Africa. He said eighteen people have suffered coronavirus-related deaths. “ Source: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/ Please check this link for latest updates.
A team of 10 000 Community Health Workers led by the Department of Health commenced a screening programme on 8th April to cover households in high risk areas of the country.. SA Partners teams are working closely with the Department of Correctional Services to conduct a similar screening exercise.
Access to the population remains a challenge, but slowly the work is being done. We include TB and HIV screening when we do COVID-19 screening so that a full “package” is offered, and we can utilize resources and make the best use of minimal contact
In the last month we have managed to sign a National Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Department of Correctional Services. It allows us to do our work, and has enabled the Provinces to work with us and develop local Service Level Agreements (SLA). Each Province will have a SLA that is specific for that region.
The staff of SA Partners are committed to making a difference to the lives of the South African population, in any way we can, and we continue to work towards that goal while taking the necessary precautions during this time.
Thank you to all who are making our response to this pandemic possible.