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SA has over 420k COVID-19 infections - experts debate merit of govt’s response

While South Africa was initially lauded for its swift response to the outbreak, some experts now believe the country has run out of ideas and is flustered about how to respond.

Emergency paramedics wearing a full COVID-19 coronavirus personal protective equipment (PPE) transfer an empty gurney to an ambulance at the Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth, on 10 July 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG/DURBAN – With over 422,000 infections in the country, division on how government should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying.

While South Africa was initially lauded for its swift response to the outbreak, some experts now believe the country has run out of ideas and is flustered about how to respond to an increasingly worrying situation.

Two-hundred-and -fifty deaths have been recorded overnight, pushing the national death toll to 6,643.

At least one member of the ministerial advisory committee on COVID-19 has slammed government's decision to close schools saying it may actually help the spread of the virus.

While the lockdown was initially implemented to prepare health facilities and to slow the spread, Professor Shabir Madhi said there appears to be no plan to deal with virus in the country anymore.

Government has admitted that the decision to close schools was taken against the advice of scientists and medical experts - who say it's better to keep pupils at school than at home where infections are taking place

Rofessor shabir madhi has suggested that there is a deviation in government’s initial plan to deal with the coronavirus.

“You need to go back to the initial announcement by the minister of health and the president, and all the advisors, and listen to the interviews and what reasons they gave at that time [for] why they were going into a lockdown; and then try to reconcile what has been said over time.”

He said school pupils were being disadvantaged.

“In South Africa, there is very little role for school closure – in fact, its harmful to children to be closing the schools.”

Madhi said pupils at lower grades will especially be hit hard as they still need to develop cognitive abilities.

The basic education ministry said it will use the four-week break to prepare for the phasing in of other grades.

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