City of Joburg rolls out virus protection measures

Jacob Maphanga sanitizes a taxi driver's hands at Wanderers taxi rank during the South African Taxi Council's demonstration of the taxi industry's plans to contain the spread of coronavirus in taxi ranks countrywide, Johannesburg, 19 March 2020. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku said his department had added a Covid-19 feature to Mpilo, the department’s patient engagement app.

As Covid-19 continues to spread throughout the country, the City of Joburg has closed all public swimming pools, recreational and civic centres, including the Johannesburg Zoo, stadiums, libraries and sporting facilities until further notice.

It has also scaled down the operations of the metro and Rea Vaya bus services. All buses will be sanitised every 24 hours and washed twice a day.

Executive mayor Geoffrey Makhubo said according to figures released by the department of health, Gauteng and particularly Joburg had highest number of reported and confirmed coronavirus cases.

“Given that the city has a population of 5.5 million residents, mostly located in high-density settlements and with a significant population located in informal settlements, this warrants the implementation of drastic, yet responsible, interventions to prevent the potential rapid spread that could affect millions in a short space of time with devastating effects,” said Makhubo.

He said the city’s approach was to prevent, contain and manage the spread of Covid-19 through efficient and equitable deployment of resources to vulnerable areas, particularly those with high volumes of human traffic and informal and densely populated settlements.

“Clinical teams are being deployed to support the elderly and vulnerable. This includes tracking and tracing those who have potentially been exposed,” he said.

The city has encouraged bars, nightclubs, taverns, restaurants, cinemas and other areas of public entertainment to cease operations, or limit themselves to providing off-premises consumption.

Makhubo said several service delivery initiatives would ensure an end-to-end support system.

“Johannesburg Water will provide an emergency water supply to informal settlements … and an increased frequency in the servicing of VIP toilets. Additional teams have been put on stand-by to respond to water interruptions and sewerage leaks,” he said.

The Johannesburg Property Company and Johannesburg Social Housing Company have been directed to identify sites and facilities that can be used for the self-isolation and quarantine of “the poor, homeless and vulnerable”, he said.

Meanwhile, Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku said his department had added a Covid-19 feature to Mpilo, the department’s patient engagement app. It will educate the public and help with contact tracing.

“We encourage residents to be responsible, resilient and to not [underestimate] the potential impact a widespread and rapid infection rate of the virus could have,” said Makhubo.

“We must amend our daily routines, forego unnecessary travel, take due care for our personal hygiene and be vigilant to signs of infection and symptoms.”

gcinan@citizen.co.za

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