As the world comes to grips with the coronavirus that continues to spread, South Africa is taking steps to ensure our citizens stay informed.
The government has created a very informative WhatsApp group for support and a website that functions as a resource portal for citizens who have questions about the outbreak.
The website, sacoronavirus.com contains official government statements, South African Covid-19 statistics, preventative tips, and information about the virus such as symptoms and treatments. To join the WhatsApp support line, you simply have to text “Hi” to 0600 123 456.
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) March 14, 2020
Suspension of public gatherings
Various public gatherings are being suspended in the wake of the increased confirmed cases of Covid-19 in South Africa.
On Friday, March 13, the University of Cape Town announced they are suspending the upcoming March graduations. In a statement, Vice Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng said, “the university leadership has taken the decision to postpone the installation of our Chancellor on Monday, 16 March, and to suspend the March graduation ceremonies, which were scheduled to start on Thursday, March 19.
“As deeply important as these events are for the campus community, it is much more important that we take responsible decisions that will help to avoid the spread of COVID-19.”
The UCT leadership has taken the decision to postpone the chancellor’s installation on 16 March and to suspend March graduation ceremonies from 19 March. The Registrar’s Office will send details to graduands about how they can receive their certificates of graduation. pic.twitter.com/4ESByaLkcx
— UCT (@UCT_news) March 13, 2020
Stellenbosch University has also suspended their upcoming graduation ceremonies. They announced in a statement that as a result of the World Health Organisation’s declaration that the outbreak is a global pandemic, all graduations scheduled for March and April are cancelled.
Similarly, the 2020 Super Rugby tournament has been suspended “for the foreseeable future”. Sanzaar (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) said that it had no option but to do so.
“The safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of Covid-19 containment,” said Andy Marinos, Sanzaar CEO, in a statement.
The Western Cape Education Department has issued advice to all schools in the province on how they should respond to coronavirus. “We know many people are concerned, but it is important that we stay calm,” said Western Cape Education Minister Debbie Schäfer in a statement.
They advised that all school tours should be reconsidered and that all learners and parents who have travelled recently should be carefully observed for up to 14 days.
“Should the need arise, the decision to close any public school will be made by the Head of Department in consultation with the school and health authorities,” she said.
On Saturday, March 14, St Cyprian’s School announced in a statement that they have taken the decision to close early for the March holidays. The school is in close proximity to the high school and middle school campuses of United Herzlia Schools where a parent and Grade 9 learner have tested positive for the coronavirus after travelling to the US and Dubai.
St Cyprian’s principal Shelley Frayne said, “Considering the new information at our disposal, and in keeping with our desire to protect our children from becoming sick as far as possible as well as to exercise our civic responsibility to slow down the rate of infection, we have taken the decision to close early for the March holidays.”