Solidarity needed to hold off third wave this Easter

The South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium Epidemic Explorer, an open access website, has provided data that showed Covid-19 infections were down prior to Easter and stakeholders were working to keep it that way.

The website was built to analyse the resurgence risk, present metrics to prepare for future outbreaks, and monitor Covid-19 hospital admissions.

It is a collaboration between the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Modelling and Simulation Hub, Africa at the UCT, South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis at Stellenbosch University and the Health Economics and Epidemiology Research Office at the Wits University in partnership with Boston University.

The latest data at the time of publishing showed that none of the country’s 52 health districts had experienced a consistent 5-day uptick in Covid-19 cases leading up to the long weekend.

Last week the Solidarity Fund met and discussed preventing the third wave with the South African Council of Churches, the National Liquor Traders Association, Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa, Department of Transport and the South African National Taxi Council.

Tandi Nzimande, chief executive of the Solidarity Fund, said the goal was to come together as stakeholders to urge responsibility and vigilance.

“The desire to spend time and commemorate this period with family, friends and community, while important, may also create the conditions for super-spreader events which may bring on the third wave. We cannot afford a third wave and we all need to play our part to prevent this.”

Secretary-general of the South African Council of Churches, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said: “We understand people want to celebrate the holidays as they have done in the past, particularly with us missing out on celebrations last year. All citizens must exercise caution and adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols.

“Our commemoration of this special time should not give rise to super spreader events.

“So we must play our parts and wear masks, covering the nose and mouth even with friends and family, avoid large gatherings, ensure good ventilation, and maintain social distance,” he said

Mpumlwana, also the chair of the ministerial advisory committee on social change, said an interfaith religious forum against Covid-19 was being formed to tackle the virus as well as assist in promoting social cohesion.

Lucky Ntimane from the SA Liquor Traders Association said he acknowledged that there would be “rotten eggs” or those who took chances believing they could get away with flouting protocols.

“We have seen that increased restrictions to manage the spread of the virus, has severely affected the alcohol industry. We were not trading for over 150 days.

“We need citizens to play their part. We have over 250 000 jobs dependent and establishments like taverns are crucial for township economies.

“So all non-compliance must be punished with licenses being revoked and the law must be enforced.”

Nkosinathi Sishi, department of transport’s deputy director-general, said citizens needed to remain mindful that as people went about their lives, they created conditions to spread the virus.

“We must ensure we are not part of fuelling super-spreader events.

“We are seeing a trend of rising infections across the world as other countries experience third waves so as people move to celebrate the Easter holidays with family and loved ones they must do so with caution.

“We must play a constructive role in keeping the economy open and people moving, this is why we constantly educate and inform the public as well as the various associations in the transport sector.”

Thabisho Molelekwa, chief strategic officer for Santaco said they instituted strict controls and stringent Covid-19 safety protocols.

“Taxis connect communities and sectors, from grocery store staff to hospital nurses so it is crucial for our sector to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

“To ensure these protocols are followed we have patrol vehicles to monitor compliance.

“There are 2 vehicles from each of our 950 different associations.

“All passengers and drivers must be wearing masks and we encourage that every 2 hours taxis are opened up and aired.

“If regulations are not followed a spot fine of R500 will be imposed but in KZN it has been upped to R800 and if you are found to be a repeat offender you will be suspended.”

Rosemary Anderson, national chairperson of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa ( Fedhasa), said Covid-19 brought to the fore the issue of lives versus livelihoods when instituting restrictions and regulations.

“This is a constant struggle as the lines are beginning to blur become very much the same thing.

“A year of co-existing with the pandemic has shown us that the struggle continues to be ever-present and that we cannot afford stricter restrictions as the industry is already financially compromised.

“Citizens must remember that our behaviour will impact on how successful we are.

“We encourage and ensure all of our members adhere to protocols and we need to make preventative measures second nature, it is the moral thing to do.”

Sunday Tribune

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