Preparations for Coronavirus must be prioritised

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

The Eastern Cape is ill prepared to deal with a potential Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, and drastic steps need to be taken to prevent the virus from running rampant through the province.

Yesterday, 4 March 2020, the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature was informed that the province’s hospitals do not have sufficient capacity in terms of isolation wards and ventilation facilities.

Today the first official case of Covid-19 in South Africa has been confirmed in KwaZulu Natal.

Furthermore, according to epidemiologists in the province, infection control is weak and outbreak response is also lacking.

A further challenge is that there is no current information available regarding the impact that a Covid-19 outbreak would have on patients who already have compromised immunity, such as HIV and TB sufferers.

It is for this reason that I tabled a motion in the house today, calling on the Eastern Cape Department of Health, in collaboration with all stakeholders, to take urgent steps to prepare medical facilities in the province for the imminent arrival of Covid-19 on our shores.

Download Motion

What is needed, and what should have been done months ago, is a clear, time-bound, resourced and funded strategy be formulated and rolled out at a matter of great urgency.

The DA urges the Department of Health to use all media platforms to inform Eastern Cape citizens of the facts about the Coronavirus, and give clear guidelines to citizens about steps to take at home to avoid becoming infected, as well as steps to prevent the spread of infection.

The DA in the Western Cape has already taken significant steps forward to prepare for the onset of the virus. Isolation facilities have been identified and prepared, emergency medical services are on standby and disaster management personnel and all other stakeholders have been included in a multi-pronged strategy for dealing with the virus.

Urgent and thorough planning is required in the Eastern Cape in order to minimise the very high health risks associated with the Coronavirus. Failure to plan thoroughly will result in loss of life. This must be prevented at all costs.