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NC prepared for year’s challenges

Kimberley, Springbok, Upington, Calvinia and De Aar have been identified as potential hotspots for Covid-19 infections.

This was revealed by the Northern Cape premier, Dr. Zamani Saul, during a meeting of the Northern Cape Command Council on Monday (18/01).

Saul urged people to make a greater effort to adhere to the safety protocols and regulations.

“The virus is still with us, so people should continue to wear masks, practise social distancing and wash hands with water and soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser,” he said.

Saul said the increase of Covid-19 cases in the Northern Cape is mainly influenced by:

  • heightened activities during the festive season, such as parties and shopping;
  • more travellers in the province, especially in the Namakwa area;
  • the non-compliance with Covid-19 regulations by some businesses and community members; and
  • opened beaches in the Namakwa areas, attracting more tourists from other provinces.

Frontline workers

To date, 16 healthcare workers in the Northern Cape have died due to Covid-19. A total of 1 444 have tested positive.

At this stage, 15 officials of the South African Police Service based in the Northern Cape have died due to Covid-19.

Vaccines

According to Saul, the National Department of Health will coordinate the vaccine rollout with the provincial departments and the private healthcare sector.

The vaccine will be given out in three phases, beginning with frontline healthcare workers, followed by other essential workers and high-risk groups before reaching the wider population.

Schools

Since the National State of Disaster was announced in March 2020, 18 teachers in the Northern Cape have succumbed to Covid-19.

On the reopening of schools, Saul said the provincial Department of Education has assessed the readiness of schools for the 2021 school year in terms of adherence to Covid-19 adjusted alert level 3.

Schools will make use of differentiated timetables for the phasing in of learners.

Saul said the need for additional classrooms in areas where an increase in learner numbers are expected, is being determined.

At the same time, the infrastructural needs of schools in terms of ablution facilities, sufficient water provision and other general needs, which may affect the health and safety of teachers and learners, are being assessed.

As before, burglaries and vandalism remain a problem and schools will be patrolled in an effort to curb this.

Last week, it was announced that public schools will reopen on 15 February for learners, with teachers returning on 8 February.

Matric results are still expected on 23 February.

Healthcare workers

According to the Northern Cape MEC for Health, Maruping Lekwene, 424 clinical personnel had been appointed in December and January.

“This is part of our efforts to improve access to health care throughout the province,” he said.

The appointments range from medical officers to pharmacists, nurses and allied health professionals in all districts.

Altogether 52 new personnel were welcomed in the Namakwa District, 57 in ZF Mgcawu, 43 in John Taolo Gaetsewe, 58 in Frances Baard and 57 in Pixley Ka Seme.

The Robert Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley welcomed 148 clinicians.

Lekwene said the recruitment and retention of scarce skills and continuous training remains a priority in the department.

He has also committed himself to giving attention to appointments of non-clinical staff, such as porters, clerks and cleaners in health facilities were shortages are experienced.

Universities

The minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, said during a press conference on Monday (18/01) that all universities will be ready to open between middle March and April.

Universities yet to complete the 2020 academic year will hopefully do so by March.

The Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley and Unisa are amongst those that completed the academic year, Nzimande said.

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