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South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Tuesday 7 April

Today’s latest news in South Africa, Tuesday 7 April

Mass COVID-19 screening hits the streets

The health department has redoubled its efforts at early-detection by embarking on a nationwide door-to-door COVID-19 testing campaign. The programme, which involves a fleet of mobile testing units and thousands of field workers, has already visited numerous districts in all provinces.
Government, in collaboration with the National Health Laboratory Service and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, has identified close to a thousand priority wards which are due for testing drives during the lockdown period.

The project is primarily focused on high-density areas, including taxi ranks, which are typified by citizens living and moving in close proximity to one another.

Government urged to increase grants during lockdown

A number of civil society organisations have called on government to increase social grant payments during the lockdown, noting that the country’s poor were likely to be pushed further into poverty as ‘a result of financial uncertainty.
The most recent call, from the Children’s Institute, urges President Cyril Ramaphosa to increase the Children’s Social Grant amount by R500. The institute has added that, despite government interventions pertaining to retailers, the cost of food had skyrocketed in recent weeks, further embattling families who had lost support of the school feed scheme.

South African nurses in the coronavirus’ firing line

A number of nurses in South Africa have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus, sparking fears of increased patient transmissions in the country’s hospitals and clinics.
Despite warnings from the Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union in early March, stating that “nurses had not been adequately trained in dealing with coronavirus”, infections amongst ill-equipped healthcare workers continue to rise.
Clinics in Ekurhuleni, Cape Town and Durban have all been hit by a wave of staff infections. While local health departments scramble to isolate clinics and implement urgent tracing operation, the closure of community clinics have put strain on the country’s already-overwhelmed healthcare system.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) recently slammed government for failing to provide healthcare workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), saying:
“Nehawu is aware that in many of the health facilities, employees, especially doctors and nurses, supplement the inadequate government-issued PPE with PPE procured at (their) own cost.”

Small-scale farmer to receive government assistance

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development will from Wednesday, 8 April, accept applications from distressed small-scale farmers, who need financial relief from the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
This follows last week’s announcement of the R1.2 billion COVID-19 disaster fund intervention in the agricultural sector, as a response to assist small-scale farmers.
On Monday, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, announced the details of how the funding will work during a virtual media briefing.
Of the R1.2 billion that has been ring-fenced, R400 million has been allocated for farmers within the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) programme and the remainder will be channelled towards all other farmers that are mainly within the following commodity sectors:
  • Poultry: Day-old chicks, point-of-lay chickens, feed, medication and sawdust.
  • Other livestock: feed and medication.
  • Vegetables: seedlings, fertiliser, pesticides, herbicides and soil correction.
Other commodity sectors will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, as the department continuously monitors the impact of COVID-19 on the sector at large. (Source: SAnews)

Coronavirus threatens nearly 20 million African jobs

Millions of lost jobs, mounting debt woes and plunging remittances are among the economic hardships African countries can expect because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the African Union said in a study published Monday.
“Nearly 20 million jobs, both in the formal and informal sectors, are threatened with destruction on the continent if the situation continues,” said the study, which noted that countries relying heavily on tourism and oil production stand to be hit especially hard.
The 35-page study outlines two scenarios for the trajectory of the pandemic — a “realistic” scenario in which the pandemic lasts until July but Africa “is not very affected”, and a “pessimistic” scenario in which it lasts until August and Africa suffers more. (Source: AFP)
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