What’s the plan, Premier?

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, must break radio silence and share the province’s plans to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak in the Eastern Cape.

While the Democratic Alliance welcomes the plans the Premier is putting in place to alleviate the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the provincial economy once the lockdown is over, there has been very little forthcoming about what the province is doing to deal with the pandemic from a health perspective over the coming weeks.

I have written to the Premier and Health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba, to call on them to communicate their plans and the challenges with the public.

The disease is already in its second phase in the province, it is no longer only imported by travellers, but now includes clustered transmission. This means that phase three, local transmission, and phase four, widespread community transmission, are not far off.

Information is vital when confronted with a disease of this magnitude. Sadly, information and communication from the Premier and the Provincial Department of Health has been severely lacking.

This pandemic will affect all of us. It is not politically aligned and knows no racial, religious or socio-economic boundaries. We all have the right to know what plans are in place to fight it.

The Premier and MEC must regularly communicate on the following:

  • The number of tests conducted daily, the results thereof, and the current backlog.
  • Real time projections on the infection rate – not just the cases reported and confirmed.
  • The readiness of our province to expand the testing and the quarantine capacity, with locations and time frames, and bed availability per district (both general beds and critical care beds).
  • A clear testing and quarantine strategy geared towards informal settlements.
  • The availability of PPE in the province and any strategy geared towards possible private production, or any other strategy to mitigate the severe PPE shortages
  • A regular update on the number of ventilators available in the province
  • The scope of the testing teams, or alternatively the number of Community Health Workers that have been deployed, their target areas and who they report to, in order to protect the integrity of data collected.
  • The state of readiness of the provincial disaster management coordination team and where it is based; and how often this team meets with the DOH leadership in order to coordinate the fight against the pandemic provincially.
  • A comprehensive list of all the facilities across the province at which testing for the Covid-19 virus can be done, as well as a comprehensive list of all the available quarantine sites across the province and their capacity.
  • The efficacy of the communication campaign that was rolled out across the province and the challenges faced.
  • Lastly, any shortages should be listed so that business or the private sector could step in and assist wherever possible.

I believe that the next two to three weeks will be critical in our fight against the pandemic. All communities, be they business or the private sector, have a huge role to play going forward, but everybody must be kept informed if they are going to be called upon to assist in the fight to bring the Covid-19 virus to its knees.

That way, we will see the premier’s plans for the economic recovery of our province come to life sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, keep us informed of the rollout of the Health Department’s plans to beat the virus, Premier. Radio silence is not good enough.