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BRIEFING NOTES: Day 7 of national coronavirus lockdown - 2 April 2020

Everything you need to know, daily.

Picture: 123rf.

BY THE NUMBERS

CAPE TOWN - Another relatively small jump in positive cases – 82 new cases recorded, bringing the total to 1,462.

It’s very important to know that we don’t yet have a full picture. Before the mass testing campaign gets into full swing, we have no real line of sight into the nation’s most densely populated areas.

We know that the virus is loose in our townships, and we’ll only really know the scale of its spread when the testing and screening campaign gets under way in earnest.

The great news is that so far, we are tracking well below the infections that were modelled. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that was probably because of the early restrictions on movement – especially on border crossing.

BUT THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO BE COMPLACENT – stay home. It's the only power we have over the virus.

**OHHHHHH... THE CIGARETTE WAR**

If you’re almost out of smokes and starting to get antsy, there was a momentary flash of hope. Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced his province would allow the sale of cigarettes during the lockdown. Winde and his team took legal advice and discussed the matter with SAPS lawyers. So they agreed you could buy cigarettes as part of your shop for essentials.

But just hours later… the Police Minister stopped that dead. In a briefing on amendments to the regulations, he unequivocally stated – no cigarettes… anywhere… the Western Cape included.

So, as they used to say in World War II: “Smoke em if you got em”, but if you’re out, make peace with quitting (until they relax the regulations, or rethink it).

**AMENDED REGULATIONS EXPLAINED**

WHAT IF I NEED TO GO TO A FUNERAL?

  • Provision has been made for people to cross provincial borders for funerals. You’ll only be allowed to attend the funeral if you are a spouse or partner, a child (biological, adopted or stepchild), a child-in-law, parent (biological, adopted or step), sibling (biological, adopted or step), grandparent or a person closely affiliated with the deceased.

  • No funerals over 50 people. No night vigils.

  • If you need to go to a funeral, you have to get a permit from the nearest magistrate's office or police station.

  • You must either be able to produce a death certificate or a certified copy of the death certificate, or if the certificate is not yet ready, you must make a sworn affidavit.

  • If you get a permit, you can’t stay in the area where the funeral is for more than 48 hours. You are also not allowed to stay at a relative or friend’s house – you must stay at a hotel, lodge or guest house. (They are allowed to admit you providing you have the permit to travel).

  • Provision has been made to transport mortal remains to burial sites – across provincial borders; only 2 family members or people with a close affiliation to the deceased may go along with the vehicle transporting the mortal remains. But they must also have the required travel permits.

WHAT ABOUT TOURISTS?

  • Home Affairs Minister can allow someone to enter or exit the country on the basis of a medical emergency, or to receive medical attention for a life threatening condition.

  • Home Affairs minister can allow a foreign national to exit the country in order to be repatriated to their home country, and can allow an SA Citizen or permanent resident to come home.

  • All foreign tourists must remain in their place of temporary residence for the duration of the lockdown or for 14 days (if they arrive towards the end of the lockdown), they may be tested, isolated and quarantined if required.

  • When being evacuated by their home country’s government, they must be escorted to the point of exit, and might be screened again.

CONTACT TRACING AND CELLPHONE POSITIONING

  • They’ll be pulling together a “COVID-19 Tracing Database” to help tracing.

  • It will include the person’s first name and surname, identity or passport numbers, residential address and cellphone numbers, as well as the test results all of the people, details of known or suspected contacts.

  • The information is confidential and can’t be disclosed.

  • Testers must obtain all this information, as well as a copy or photograph of the passport, driver’s licence, identity card or identity book of the person tested.

  • The Director-General of Health can direct a cellphone service provider to use the person’s cellphone details to track contacts over the period between March 5th, and whatever date the national state of disaster is lifted.
    They are not allowed to intercept the contents of any electronic communication.

  • A retired judge will be appointed to oversee this – the Health DG must file a weekly report to that judge. The Judge will keep an eye on privacy rights too.

  • The DG has to notify every person whose information has been obtained within 6 weeks of the end of the State of Disaster.

All information on the COVID-19 Tracing Database will be de-identified… so your potential contacts won’t become public. The de-identified data will be used only for research, study and teaching purposes.

THE WESTERN CAPE

ALAN WINDE

  • Winde wants some of the regulations clarified, and wants to expand the list of things that you can purchase during the lockdown to include items like stationery… chargers… dongles etc.

ALBERT FRITZ

  • Serious spike in school vandalism during the lockdown so far, so City will recruit neighbourhood watch members to help protect those.

  • 6 pm last night til 6 am this morning – 50 arrests in WCape for the contravention of the regulations.

  • Fritz Referenced several cases of heavy handedness by the police and SANDF. He’s urged any citizen with complaints to traffic them through the police ombud ombudsman@wcpa.gov.za.

  • He also praised the City of Cape Town for acting swiftly against it’s members who’ve allegedly transgressed - 7 city law enforcement officers are suspended pending legal processes.

  • A warning that if they catch liquor outlets selling liquor, they will be slapped with a 100 thousand rand fine. Anyone citizen found in possession of alcohol will have the booze confiscated, get a fine, and will never get the booze back.

DR KIETH CLOETE

  • Flu Vaccines – major drive to vaccinate health workers, the elderly, immune compromised.

  • Cloete also outlined the province’s mass community testing strategy – they will go to areas where locally transmitted cases pose the biggest risk for community transmission. They call those areas Polygons – a local area around the home of the confirmed case the households around the home of the confirmed case. As of Monday, they hope to be out doing that.

  • Chronic medication delivery means lots of vulnerable people can get what they need without having to leave their homes, and potentially expose themselves to infection.