DA demands transparency in Limpopo Covid-19 matters

A health worker at a screening and testing site in Alexandra Stadium, 27 April 2020. The mobile testing vehicles targeted Joburg's epicenter region E, and had testing vehicles all around the area which included Sandton, Marlboro Riverclub and Modderfontein, among others. Picture: Neil McCartney

Virus information ‘must broken down into cases per district, fatalities per district, recoveries, the number of screenings and the number of tests conducted’.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Limpopo is unhappy about what it deems to be a lack of transparency regarding Covid-19 in the province.

It has submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to the Limpopo department of health, demanding an “open book” in matters relating to the infection, recoveries and the curbing of Covid-19.

The PAIA application by the party is also aimed at forcing the department, under the leadership of MEC Phophi Ramathiuba, to release detailed Covid-19 statistics on a daily basis or, at least, every second day.

DA spokesperson for health Risham Maharaj said the application was submitted because the provincial department was allegedly inconsistent in sharing information regarding Covid-19.

He said on Monday the DA and other parties represented in the Limpopo legislature had an informative meeting with Premier Chupu Mathabatha and certain MECs regarding the province’s response to Covid-19. He alleged that Mathabatha and his team had committed to such detailed information on a fortnightly basis.

“Despite this positive engagement, the DA believes the Limpopo department of health should be releasing the statistics daily or at least every other day. The information must broken down into cases per district, fatalities per district, recoveries, the number of screenings and the number of tests conducted,” said Maharaj.

He said the frequent provision of this information about the coronavirus was important.

“The release of this information is necessary for public accountability. It reflects how much work is being done,” said Maharaj.

“For example, information released recently by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) shows that Limpopo has only managed to conduct 69 tests per 100,000 people, which is the second-lowest after the North West. The province has so far screened over three million people, with about 3,000 people being referred for testing and 1,942 people being tested.”

He said according to figures provided by the NICD, which indicated the low numbers of testing being conducted, more questions have been raised as to whether the country was getting a complete picture of transmissions in the province.

According to Maharaj, for an accurate reflection of the spread of the virus, Limpopo needed to increase testing.

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